Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 8: Soil Ingestion Research Project ~ Cold Lake First Nations (English Bay)

Day 8:

Our CLFNS Coordinator/Representative, Brian
~ I'm grateful for all he has shared in regards
to traditional knowledge, Aiy-hey, maci cho 
This morning started off early for our Outfitter & Coordinator, Brian.  They went out at 5:00 AM to try & hunt for deer or moose.  I finally crawled, literally (so tired) crawled out of bed this morning.  We go all day & all the fresh air is good because it gives you energy but then when you drop to sleep, you literally drop.  We all have been sleeping really well since we’ve been drinking mint tea each night.  So much that we are sleeping in having breakfast at 8:00 AM instead of 7:00 AM, even our researchers have been sleeping in & they are on Eastern time zones.  I told them all, that I’m not giving them mint tea anymore, going to change to muskeg & tamarack tea (we pick the muskeg & use the bark from the tamarack tree) because everyone is getting to relaxed, they all laughed but said they have been sleeping well but agree we should cut back on the mint tea.

We didn’t go out in the morning, we all hung around the camp while Jewel & our Muskrat Warrior went out to Cold Lake so Jewel could take care of University business.  In the mean time, I went and helped the E-bay Community Centre staff with their Weekly Wednesday Community Soup & Bannock lunch.  I did little stuff but asked them to document all they are putting in the soup because we have to record everything.  I’ve kind of taken it on as my responsibility to help Graham record when he is away from Camp because today he had to take a run to Edmonton to send the first batch of test samples to Ottawa…yes we Ginny Pigs (lol) are so important, the capital of Canada wants our bodily waste (hee, hee) ;)…we always get a kick out of that…but did they get to Ottawa, so we thought but we found out different by mid-day…

When noon arrived, I weighed all our servings & had all of us record our food but BANNOCK was off limits.  We aren’t allowed to eat bannock throughout this project because, apparently, baking powder has aluminum in it & it messes up the test results, so E-bay staff we very generous enough to accommodate us & give us whole wheat buns…..hmmmm our compliments to the chef, the soup & berries with whip cream was the best!

I was so glad to see my mom & auntie Terri, they came for soup & bannock, I hadn’t seen my mom in over two weeks & she just finished her last radiation last Friday.  She was looking well, she is walking better & I can see hair is starting to grow back, not enough to make braids (jokes) …  love teasing her!  However, when we had lunch, I warned Pakan that I was going to have my auntie sit beside him & he better not flirt with her (we had a good laugh)…he is teaser too.

Later mom & auntie came to see our camp & they laughed at my mansion, all mom kept saying was, “oh my” & keep laughing.  She is cute, now she wants to come sleep with me.

One of the four bears we saw over 2 days ~ the bear is
probably wondering what strange creators we are while
he/she is minding their own business...doing what
Muskwak (Cree) or Susas (Dene) do best
When Jewel returned from Cold Lake, five of us: Jewel, Brian, Pakan, John, & myself went up to the Imperial Oil site, right within the area an hour north of Bonnyville & we even drove as far north as to the Bombing Range gates.  Our Coordinator took us to many interesting sites & we also say two bears again.  It’s amazing how many bears there are in this area.  As we drove to a few sites to take samples, we picked raspberries, more muskeg, & tamarack.  I can never get tired of seeing the beauty out here & all the vegetation.  There are places is the bush, so plush, moss all over, & everything is green etc. that you would think you were in the mountains.  

It explains itself ~ "You Are Here" lol

That’s how much amazing beauty there is & all of Imperial Oil has all that land.  There are pipelines all over the place.  At one point, we stopped & there was a sign with map, in the middle of the bush, that told us, “you are here” & the wells are here.  We kind of laughed because, there are signs in the middle of the wilderness that tell us where we are just like you would see those maps in shopping malls.

Pakan picking muskeg

Pakan & John walking back from picking
kinnikinnik ~ see the one of many oil pipelines that
goes on for miles in the background

As we took a brief rest in the wilderness, our awesome Pakan, opened the dust filled back of the truck box & saved our yearning hunger by offering to share his afternoon snack (in a paper lunch bag) with us all; which, he just pulled out of his one rubber boot from the back of the truck.  We laughed when we say the rubber boots & bagged lunch covered in dust (we were on gravel roads).  I said, “well, they want to test how much soil we ingest, I guess this will be a good reading”, we all just laughed especially when I took a bite of a cookie & it tasted like dirt.  While we were eating all of Pakan's food, Jewel found out, Graham was having a hard time shipping our  precious & valuable samples to OTTAWA...we were so proud to send part of us to Ottawa & the darn Alberta Province won't let these Federal Treaty Indians scats out of the their so called jurisdiction ( how did the province get so much control over our "scat"? ~ my sarcastic satire for the day ;)) ...therefore, Graham came back & will try another day...oh well, we felt honored our adopted brother, Graham (University of Ottawa Master's student) escorted our valuable samples on a touring return trip from Edmonton to Cold Lake First Nations & back...I've never been in two places at once, now I can say I have (lol).
Yup, we are goooood Ginny Pigs, after all, we all want Graham to get his Masters Degree because this is his Thesis project for the University of Ottawa & Dr. Blais is his advising Professor.  We told Graham, around the camp fire this evening, in a teasing manner to lighten up his frustrating day in Edmonton, that 
“we got your back Graham, we are here for you”
…he just laughed & said, “just like you have Pakan’s back” (read on & the bunchline for that remark is in the end of this journal, so keep it in mind).

When we got back, our Outfitter & my other female peer had started supper & we chowed down.  We were so hungry.  Pakan had young visitors & got to meet more relatives who are working as Environmental Monitors, it was nice to see because when I was working on Traditional Land Use years ago, my contractors & I wanted to see trained Aboriginal Environmental Monitors.  It was nice to see these young people trained.

After they left, we had a few visitors, one was showing a few of my peers a game & the other shared some medicine teachings with me.  I felt so honored she was willing to share some of her teachings with me.  I am talking about a local Elder who was raised on knowing medicines & she was so willing to share some of her knowledge she learned from her grandmother.  I humbly thanked her as per our cultural protocol & we continued to talk over muskeg & tamarack tea.  Another blessing of the day!

The day ended with another healing blessing & one of the best medicines ~ laughter…I’m not talking about just any kind of laughter but the kind that lights your heart & soul so much you feel utter pleasure & joy…

Here is what happened:

Pakan (is in his 60s but a very active person you can tell worked hard labor all his life & he likes to tease a lot & joke around) comes out of his tent & he looks at Ryan (another Ginny Pig participant) & says all serious & confused, “what job, what are they talking about ~ job”.  Then he says, “who was messing around with my piss (our morning urine sample), I put that bottle up there on the cooler & it’s only half filled, I know I filled it”.  I know, I’m confused at this point & he’s all frantic, so he crawls back in his tent & comes out holding a half filled urine sample.  He then proceeds to say with frustration standing in front of all of us in lounge chairs, “look, I know I filled this thing & it’s half full, who was messing with my piss”?  Just as he was going to say something else, our Outfitter grabs the bottle & yells as though he is pissed off, “well forget it then” he opens the bottle & dumps the urine right in front of Pakan & all of us.  As Pakan is shocked & tries to save his sample & yells, “what the…”, I yell, “what the hell are you doing”.  I am mad & Pakan is in shock, we are all in shock, then a second passes & my female peer runs out of her tent & yells, “did he drink it?”.  All of a sudden I started to laugh so hard; as the others, who don’t know what’s happening, are sitting there in shock.  Then someone says to flabbergasted Pakan, it’s “only apple juice!”

We all laughed so hard, I felt to grateful for that Good Medicine, it sure healed the day & helped all of us release any frustrations or tension we might have felt within the day.
Then Pakan, goes back in his tent & shows all of us the note he found with the SUPPOSED IMPOSTER Urine Sample:
“Don’t worry Silas, we got your back ~ we did your job for you”

The joke was on Pakan…& no matter how many times we brought it up right until we all went to bed, we couldn’t stop laughing until tears were rolling own our faces & our stomach hurt…it was the ultimate classic prank ever… 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WAY TO GO SHANNON! Glad to hear all is well as you "kick it ol'school" ;p

We are still living it up here in SL with our running water & jjks.

Can you imagine if we did this as a staff retreat? All of us with our nails and blow dryers? lmao that would be hilarious.

Well take care and you keep those stool samples clean ;P LOL