Cree Elder James Grandjambe of Fort MacKay, AB
Long time ago, I was interviewing James for a book we were working on called "Our Stories Help The Northern Lights Dance." I was asked to interview Elders in Fort MacKay and Fort Chip. It was a dream come true.
I interviewed James and he, at that time, was the eldest Knowledge Keeper in Fort MacKay. I shared an afternoon speaking with him. His dog was Princess. She put up with me bothering James with so many questions. James has pointed moccasins and was very patient with me.
After we were done, I asked James if he had any rat root. I promised to take his picture and make copies for him and his family for trade. He agreed.
He went into his back room on his wheelchair and was gone for 10 of the longest minutes of my life and when he returned, he had the biggest bag of ratroot I had ever seen.
He took out a handfull of ratroot and I was so happy. The flu was bad that year. I could help so many friends and family members.
He handed me the rest of the bag. It was as big as my face (and I have a puffy face!).
"You're young," he said. "You take it."
And that is the spirit of our Elders right there: always wanting the best for us all.
I am so grateful to James and his sister for welcoming me and my questions into their homes.
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