On Saturday, Sept. 16, Norman Wells gathered to say goodbye to Cecile Rivet Raymond. She was born in Fort Norman (Tulita) in 1928 and she lived in the Sahtu region most of her life.

She and her husband, Johnny Raymond were the only two Aboriginals who worked for the American Army in Norman Wells and the Canol Camp during the war in the 1940s. Later they worked for the Government of Northwest Territories at the school. She was a quiet and classy woman who had many friends.

Cecile and I used to talk about long ago growing up without a government. The Hudson Bay Company and the missionaries ran the North in the early 1900s. A whole bunch of young men from the provinces decided to venture into the NWT. Travel was mostly by oxen and horses in those days. When they arrived at Fort Fitzgerald in Alberta, they had to portage to Fort Smith. The Hudson’s Bay Company had two stern wheelers – the S.S .Distributor and S.S .Mackenzie – we called them steam boats. Anyhow, many of these young men were looking for jobs and adventure. They made their way down the Mackenzie River by working or hitch-hiking onto boats, etc., or working as deck hands on various boats and scows. They stopped at many settlements. A few of them stayed at Fort Norman. My Dad, Hib (Herbert) Hodgson and Cecile’s Dad, Frank Rivet, stayed there along with many more whose names include: Cadieux; Robert; Granath; Lennie; and Boland.

That was the beginning of the Metis in the North. We used to talk about being Metis. We weren’t considered Indian or a white person. I remember wishing I was an Indian especially at treaty time when the government passed out the $5 treaty money given to the Indians once a year. Five dollars was big money in those early days. Anyway, we were known as “half-breeds.” Can you imagine? You don’t dare say that or call anyone that name today.

Anyway all those young men sure became great trappers and learned how to live off the land from their young Indian wives. Cecile’s Dad, Henry Rivet, loved to prospect. He sure knew a lot about rocks.

As I write this on Sept 20, we have had the most beautiful weather since the 15th. No wind. No rain. Sun was shining all day for five days. Today, it is really foggy but no wind, so not bad.

Yesterday, my big-shot friend, Andy Popko just came back from a fishing trip with about eight friends. They were out on the land for ten days during the beautiful weather. And, as you know by now, I am forever pushing for the development of our NWT especially in the Sahtu region. We have about ten fishing lakes, including the Great Bear Lake where the blue fish come from. Our fish are dying of old age! We need tourists to come and enjoy fishing in the North and more.

Anyhow, I was happy to see Andy and his gang of eight people. They have been coming every year and you should hear the stories they tell. This was their 26th annual trip. Can you imagine the money they have spent here on charters, food, guides and gear? I think it must be well over $10,000 each or much more. One of them caught a 62-pound fish in the Great Bear Lake.

Come on all you Dene Leaders, if you believe you have the power as leaders, then put on your thinking caps and do SOMETHING. Your people are losing out on tourism which is one of the biggest businesses you can create.

And talking about creating business with wildlife, why isn’t anybody operating a dried fish or caribou jerky business in the Northwest Territories? Everyone loves dry meat and dried fish. White people love it too. I once asked some Natives why they didn’t make dry fish for sale? They said there were too many government regulations. I say the hell with the government regulations! Our ancestors survived on many dehydrated foods for survival. There was no refrigeration. It is time to get rid of some regulations created by greenhorns!

Anyhow, it is time to put on our thinking caps on and take a good hard look at our situation after almost 60 years of government. Time for change if you care?

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