Peter White Goes To Hudson’s Bay Store

By: Allan Crow

Our mama, Kathleen Crow, use to tell us the story of how her father, our grandfather Peter White, went to the Hudson’s Bay store when he was a young man. I can relate to the story of  my grandfather. Possibly many youth today can also relate as they leave home to attend universities for a better life.

He was still single at the time,  just before the 1900s. The store from where we are today known as Whitefish Bay was located far into the north in Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, nearly 1,000 kilometers away.  In that time, there were no roads anywhere in the land. The railways had appeared at that time, but nowhere near our area.

My mother had many sisters and brothers; she remembered well the story their father told them.  It was in the summer their father told them that he told his parents he was going to that store way up in the north.  He knew his parents were worried but they did not say anything; they told him to be careful. The store was so far away and it would take a long time to reach it.

He had left alone that summer from the small community, taking only his small rifle and a knife to hunt for food as he went.  Peter said he was lucky he met another young man on the way, and that he too was heading to up north to go see that store they had heard so much about.  They knew it was a company that bought beaver pelts from the natives, and other wild animal furs. Peter and the other youth agreed they would split whatever money they made from the trip.

They collected many pelts along the way.  Although it was cold when the winter came and the terrain was harsh, the young men did not encounter any hardships for they were young, strong men.  They were adept in making shelters, and setting up camp a few days at a time, hunting beavers to sell. The young men took time to prepare the pelts; drying the skins and making pemmican from the meat.  The tools they made along the way were snowshoes, sleds, and bows and arrows.

Still winter, the young men bought horses to carry the food and tools they bought from the Hudson’s Bay Store.  My grandfather, Peter White, returned back home in the summer. He had been away all winter. His parents and the community members were so happy to see him coming home.  He had brought lots of food for the people, salt, pepper, sugar, flour, tea, and coffee. He had also brought hunting tools for the men.

His parents cooked and had a feast that evening with the whole community.  Everyone was so happy.

 

An unexpected space of truth and reconciliation at Naotkamegwanning roundhouse

In recognition of Orange Shirt Day, Hockey Hall of Famer speaks at Indian Horse screening

By: Xavier Ranville and Wynter Taylor

It was a chilly last evening of September when Naotkamegwanning’s roundhouse was filled with more bodies than it has had in a long time – dedicated to residential school survivors.

The 40 plus community members and guests of all ages enjoyed traditional foods as wild rice and bannock before sitting down for the big screen and local George Kakeway’s similar story of residential school survival through hockey.

“Be who you are because that’s how you survive,” said Kakeway in discussion after the award-winning film adaption of the novel by the late Northwestern Ontario’s Anishinaabe Richard Wagamese.

Indian Horse, follows the fictional Anishinaabe character Saul, and his experience at residential school and his talent through hockey. The story captures many of the realities of racism and ill treatment Indigenous persons have faced.

Sept30IndianHorseGeorgeKakewayRoundHouse_Xavier_recording-WynterTaylor
Kakeway as the only Indigenous boy played hockey in Kenora, later attending Assiniboia Residential School with later Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine (Photo Credit: Wynter Taylor)

The film left many people in tears touched by the story, either seeing for the first time on screen the real experiences of their loved ones or because they had no idea of this part of Canada’s history and what they went through.

Like many adults and elders like Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation’s George Kakeway, the story of Saul and his peers was very much a reality.

“As a survivor it becomes very hard to express what we went through,” he said in the community discussion.

George was taken from his home in 1951 at the age of 6.  He talked about his time at St. Mary’s Catholic Residential School in Kenora, that his hair was cut bald and punished for speaking Ojibwe. He expressed that this place, along with its sanitarium, was one of the loneliest places.

“The intent was to assimilate us, not to educate us,” he said.

Like character Saul, he was an orphan at age 10, and hockey had come available for him and he excelled, not just out of interest but a method of survival from experiences.

Wynter Taylor - George Kakeway
George Kakeway said he would use hockey and other sports to get it out of your mind and survival. (Photo Credit: Wynter Taylor)

He said hockey gave him the opportunity to chose to go to Winnipeg’s Assiniboia Residential school which let him study and also gave him time to play hockey. His focus led him to become the chief at his home at the young age of 25.

In October of last year George and his team were inducted into Manitoba’s Hockey Hall of Fame.

September 30, Orange Shirt Day is not just the last day of the month but a national movement, and proposed national holiday of sharing residential school experiences. It remains a hard day for many elders to relive and share, taking courage.

Kakeway Indian Horse Screening Poster
Indian Horse Screening Poster (Photo Credit: Karli Zschogner)

While having heard about residential schools, Judi Cannon, a non-indigenous attendee, was overwhelmed to learn about what was going on inside and outside of the residential schools.

“I can’t even believe it would happen,” she said.  “I don’t understand how people could treat other people that way.”

Cannon, Director of Ontario SPCA for Partnerships and Community Outreach, along with her crew were invited into the community for their second year extraction of unaccounted for dogs.

Event was put on by the community’s journalism trainer and the community’s Women’s Shelter.