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Life Is An Expedition

Travelling Wemindji Eeyouch (Cree) Land and Waters

I stand beside my canoe,
looking west to where water meets the sky.
My dog heads to the east.
Geese flying in from the south land on an island.
We hear gunshots from the north –
hunters, happy the geese are flying.
The winds are strong and the waves high out in James Bay.
My dog runs back to the canoe with a rabbit.

We paddle upriver, find a calm spot, camp, and cook supper.
At river’s mouth the hills rise higher, the land is more colourful.
I want to go where the trees are tall,
but night’s falling now, we must stay here.
I pick spruce boughs to sleep on, take my axe and find firewood.
We eat grilled rabbit watching the sun set in the Bay.
Tomorrow another long journey.

I climb the hill before leaving.
There are old trails and traps on this land;
People camped here long ago.
I look to the west, I see the horizon.
When I look to the east the sun comes up over pink painted hills.
To the south, I see coastline.
When I look to the north, I see my home, the Cree Nation of Wemindji.

The Band Office looks huge.
An AirCreebec plane prepares to land.
Fishermen leave the calm waters by Riverside Drive in a motorboat.
My beautiful hometown.
Time to start paddling there.

Three people sit behind the fire in a teepee. In the foreground, geese are suspended on cords for roasting.

Come sit by the fire.

Our ancestors travelled this land, for thousands of years. We are still travelling today. Come sit by the fire awhile and listen to some stories of travel, of change, and of life in Eeyou Istchee.

Start reading the story

Site credits: Culture & Wellness Department, Cree Nation of Wemindji. With special thanks to Charly Gilpin, Anthony Georgekish, Sammy Blackned, Genevieve Reid, Katherine Scott and all the people of Wemindji who contributed stories, photos and inspiration for this story of our community.