Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 11: Soil Ingestion Research Project ~ Cold Lake First Nations (English Bay)

Day 11 (Saturday, August 27th, 2011):

Jules helping haul food ~ hmmm he looks like he's.... (lol)
Today is Rodeo Day at Cold Lake First Nations so all of us have the option to attend.  I decided to stay behind and take care of business in the camp.  I was planning to go pick some more sage & sweetgrass but, I found out later,  the day was already planned out for me.  It was a grieving day too but it was a good day with surprise visitors…

Kenny never showed up to visit last night so I called him & he was waiting for Bernadine nisim (Cree for younger sister – father’s brother’s child) & her family to go picking medicines too.  How cool, the whole family was going…what a blessing!

I woke this morning to Pakan making fire and chatting it up with Gerald (our Outfitter).  I laid in bed for a while listening to them until all emerged from their tents.  It’s going to be a hot day, I can feel it already.  I stumbled out of bed & when I exited my tent, Pakan turned & looked at me.  He said, I’m sorry Shannon but I’m leaving & I’ll be back tomorrow to pick up my tent.  I told him I was sad he was leaving & he will be missed.  I gave him a hug & he said sorry again with his eyes.  He was gone :( !

We all finished breakfast & Jules & Graham called a meeting around the camp fire.  They had discussed that, they were unable to use Pakan’s samples etc. due to his choice & will have to destroy all samples & information.  We understood & let them know that Pakan had decided to leave anyways (Pakan knew the terms when he signed the contract, we all did).  Some of us shared how he will be missed & how his actions affected us.  We all agreed he brought so much joy, happiness, & light-heartedness to our camp.  However, we all understood he has challenges like us all & we all wish him well.  I just know he will always be part of our circle.  The energy in the camp has changed & I can feel the loss, but we all just need our own time & our own way of letting go.  It was good for us to share & the Muskrat Warrior started the closing smudge & smudging the camp, while we each took our turn praying in our own way, the way we were taught, & in our own languages…you touched my heart Pakan <3.

Later, the guys (other participants) started getting ready for the rodeo & they were all so anxious to go check it out…as one by one they went & took a shower, they came back to camp looking all spiffy in there nice “town clothes’ (hee hee).  I teased them & told them they all look so handsome in their tight fitting jeans (no more sweat pants for Ryan), they all laughed, even our Elder John was laughing.  I think Ryan is looking for a wife…look out ladies, this former Bareback Rider is on the prowl  ;) (ha ha ha).

After everyone left, I thought I would help out Gerald & clean up the kitchen so we don’t get unwanted pests besides our two gophers.  Our daily local visitors stopped in for coffee, Dennis & Alex.  While they visited, my cousin, Gerose (her nickname) & her man stopped in to bring us moose liver & kidneys from a moose they killed this morning.  Gerose cooked it up & our Elder visitors feasted good.  We had a good visit, Gerose interrogated Jules for all his knowledge (lol)…she was quite interested in what we are doing.  Just before they left, she invited me to go over to help cut up the meat for drying.  I was excited, I wanted to learn how to dry moose meat so I told her I would come over as soon as I’m done cleaning & our visitors are gone.

Well our visitors were determined to stay & have coffee & tea & tell stories, reminisce about days gone by so going & learning to dry meat was off the agenda.  Oh well, I couldn’t leave the Elders, they liked to visit, “like the old days when our Dene people used to gather like this with tents & stuff” right here in this very spot.  Gerald’s old style canvas tent.

My 1 of 3 rooms in my tent (lol)
As we were visiting, I saw a burgundy van approaching, “hey that looks like my sister, Bernadine”…”IT IS MY SISTER”.  What a great surprise, Bernadine, Dennis (brother-inlaw), their two boys, my other sister Colleen’s two girls, & my other nephew.  It was so nice to have family visit…the first thing I did was show my “castle” (lol) & the kids all got on my queen sized air mattress.  We were all laughing because Dennis (who is like 6 feet 3 inches plus) was even comfortable in my tent…then they laughed when they saw my porta potty & tented outhouse…we were living in style, (lol jokes)…for camping that is (hee, hee).

It was a great visit with my family & Alex said it felt like home with all the kids running all over the place (lol).  You wouls think these kids never get out ( hee, hee)…they were so excited & Chloe so wanted to stay!

Our Ritualistic Daily Camp Fire Evenings
It was a restful day with awesome company and we ended the day with our “daily evening ritual” around the camp fire sharing our day while Ryan, John, Angelle, & Duane told us about the rodeo and Duane almost getting into a fight with the local CLFNS bottle picker.  See Duane is very conscious about the environment too & will also collect bottles daily (there are a lot of people who throw their bottles everywhere).  Well, apparently, he was in competition with CLFNS other bottle picker, but luckily for Duane’s “diplomacy” all was well on the “rez” FOR ANOTHER DAY in the neighborhood (wink wink)!  However, from the sounds of it, I heard Duane was the Spiffiest looking Bottle Picker of all the 7 Nations in the area…he is my HERO.  We need more contributors to protecting Mother Earth, there is only pride in being proud of keeping our environment beautiful ~ however it’s done! 

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