I saw some pictures of the Shoal Lake event yesterday and read the articles and like a boy missing my father as a kid, I missed my home. Although my mom originates from the territory, it was not until I met the mother of my children that I got to re-build my relationship with the land. I would spend years fishing the lake for walleye, watching Eagles drop squirrels and snakes into the water, managing to break free from the grip of their claws, if that was not a will to live than I don’t know what was.
I used to see wolves dance along the treeline when I did my ice fishing hoping and praying I would leave some fish for them and I drove by bears on islands relaxing beneath Shoal Lake’s rainbows, basking in the sun and their imagination. I have broken down in my boat and drifted to islands where I got to listen to the teachings of my grandmother, teachings I wasn’t ready to understand, but visits I enjoyed.
I spent winter nights snowmobiling with my younger son who wasn’t even 5 yet, an age in which he was still connected to the world he came, a world just behind our trees. We would drive for hours in the dark having never thought of the fact we might break down and we would find a spot surrounded by trees, turn off the machine and sit back and look up at the stars feeling a blanket of warmth amongst the comforting shadows. The boy had no fear as he smiled up at the moon, laying back in his daddy’s arms, knowing only the words “I Love You Dad.”
Our favorite season was the fall season when we would hunt partridge, deer and fish a lake of changing seasons, surrounded by an awesome array of colors while we all prepared for the winter season. Wood cutting with my in-laws became my favourite past time because we would bring lunch and make it an outing, where laughs were shared and memories were made, memories that inspire me to write today. Shoal Lake is a place that is beautiful in all its seasons, a place that is beautiful on and off the water, an Anishinaabe piece of land full of Anishinaabe people with Anishinaabe values.
Shoal Lake my home. I miss you, from a Proud Shoal Laker. Ohhhhh shtaaaaa hey yaaaaa Neeeeee….