Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 7: Soil Ingestion Research Project ~ Cold Lake First Nations (English Bay)

Day 7:

Dr. Blais of the University of Ottawa
The morning was kind of slow, we apparently had a wicked storm with thunder, lightening, & heavy rain over us last night.  Jewel (Dr. Blais) was up during the storm & was sure we were all up too, that’s how loud & hard it was…but most of us slept through it (ha, ha, ha).  He was quite surprised we slept through it but, like I said, I love storms, they put me to sleep & keep me under (ha, ha, ha). 

I so wanted to sleep in this morning & laid in bed for an hour & listened to everyone talking, chatting, & our Outfitter getting breakfast ready.  I got up though when our Coordinator called for me.  Of course, every morning, when I exit my tent, our Muskrat Warrior says, “good morning Princess” lol.  I immediately give him the evil eye & he gets scared of me (laughing jokingly).  No, just joking, every morning I always get greeted with warm “good mornings” & the one cheerful “good morning princess” with a big smile from our awesome Muskrat Warrior (hee, hee).

God's Country (CLFNS 149C): the rich vegetation untouched
~ we call this spot the "Little People Auditorium" ~ the Chief
Elder stands on the rock & talks to his/her fellow little people
(Little People are the the Protectors of the Medicines).
After breakfast, four of us ~ Graham, my female peer, our Coordinator, & I went up to the Cold Lake First Nations reserve 149C.  This is the new reserve CLFNS acquired in their land claims in 2001.  Now, this is God’s country, it is so lush, beautiful, & you can tell in so many places how beautiful the land is.  We came up here to try & find berries & maybe get a rabbit or duck but no luck.  We stopped in four locations along the way but we could tell berries are poor in this area this year but at least I got one more braid of sweetgrass.  That’s the thing about berries, they rotate each year…one year Saskatoons will be good & then blueberries aren’t.  I guess they like to take turns each year to be the centre of attention (hee, hee).  We did however, get a sample of blueberries but none to eat today (with sad face).  I guess another day but I just found out Ken will bring some from Moose Mountain (near Kehewin) on Friday ~ woo hoo!  I gave him some sampling bags too because our researchers need samples of all we eat & even the soil from the area we picked the food, medicines etc..; therefore, Moose Mountain & Kehewin Lake area will be part of this study too.  I guess it helps Dr. Blais’s objective too because he wants different test samples from a wide range of areas for variety & comparable test sampling.

Anyways, back to our trip on the northern CLFNS reserve, the cool thing is we saw two black bears & we had to stop so Graham could get bear scat sample.  All this scat from the bears & us…if anything from this project the theme seems to be: “scat” & bull”shit” from all our joking, teasing, & horsing around (laugh out loud ~ lol)! 

After we returned to camp the others were resting, it has been quite a week & it’s understandable some need to rest.  After all, like Ken said to us, around the camp fire, “we all have been blessed with many gifts this week & we need to sit back & take a rest & soak it all in sometimes”. That is so so true ~ we have been blessed, even blessed to be together, all getting along, & enjoying this experience together.  We all have our roles within our little family & we all have our unique personalities to add to the richness of this whole project experience.  It’s funny, as we have been getting to know each other more each day, we are each getting a nickname or as, we tease each other ~ “getting Indian Names (jokes)”.  For instance, we have our “Muskrat Warrior”, then we have our “Pakan (in Cree this means “nut) because he is a descendent from Chief Pakan like I am.  We also have me as “Princess” lol & the others will soon inherit their strong names (hee, hee)…to be continued as each day unfolds…

An Elder's Bus, fully equipped to live out in the bush
~ home is where the heart is!
As for our visitors, we have a few regulars who stop in daily for tea, chat, stories, & of course, many belly laughs (good medicine)! Tonight we also had a visit from a famous Artist, Alex Janvier J ~ I always love our conversations, they are always so comical, we tease, harass, & bull%^$ each other & he always teases me when I talk or tell stories, that that’s just all Saddle Lake talk (just some good friendly teasing between nations).
It was nice also to get a visit from some other local ladies of the community.  I really enjoyed the evening.  As me & my other female peer shared conversation & laughs with all five Elders (three CLFNS Elders & our to Elders) I felt blessed to be in such great company.  As I sat there listening to them, I tried to engrave a picture in my mind of this moment with these Elders around the camp fire as I took turns serving them mint tea & seeing their happy proud faces just sitting around a fire like I used to see our Elders do in the old days.  I tell you, it was so peaceful & sacred!

Like Ken said tonight before, he kissed & hugged me good night before his hour trip back home ~ we are so blessed with so many gifts this week, we need to take the time to soak it all up!

We sure are blessed & that’s the thing about life, when we slow down enough to enjoy the simple things in life, we see the real joys & blessing we are given each day…

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