Last week, Jean and I travelled to the true land of the Midnight Sun, to Inuvik by plane, then to Fort McPherson by van.

We delivered a Healing Warriors Workshop just outside of McPhoo, near Deep Water Lake.

And the sun did not go down all the time we were there. Woohoo!

We were honoured to be asked to come there by such wonderful and welcoming people. The landscape was still mostly brown when we got there, but it was nice and green when we left. It’s breathtaking country.

Driving to McPherson, we could see the mountains in the background. Beautiful.

And guess what? We were getting close to the ferry crossing at Tsiigehtchic when a young man with us yelled “buffalo.” Eschia! Take it easy, eh! There’s no buffalo up there. He quickly realized his mistake and we all laughed.

It was actually a herd of about 10 muskoxen, and man they can run pretty fast in the muskeg. It was the first time Jean and I saw real live muskox. Of course, we see the one at city hall all the time, but that doesn’t count. Hahaha!

From left, Roy Erasmus, Jean Erasmus, Travis Jerome, Abe Bonnetplume, Joanne Tetlichi, Steven Gruben, Dolly Charlie, Debbie Jerome and Steven Tetlichi. Photo courtesy of Steven Gruben

Our camp was at a small lake that is attached to a larger lake by a small creek. It has two permanent buildings. We slept in one of the buildings and the crew put up tents to house the participants.

The Healing Warriors Workshop went from Monday to Monday and topics included trauma informed self-regulation, coping with stress, addictions, healthy relationships, grief and loss, and aftercare.

The workshop was heavy at times, but the participants were able to utilize the skills they learned to remain calm. We had many hours of sharing around the fire, by the lake and in the bush, as well as around the table eating yummy food.

Also, the four-year-old son of the Resolution health support worker who provided camp support for us kept us loose and laughing with his antics. He was like a little man, and he kept surprising us with his knowledge and the different things he did.

He went fishing with a fishing rod and caught a fish using a nail and a grape as bait… a grape! Lol. He had a trap-line with mouse traps, and he set up a store and “sold” us his toys and various items he collected at the camp. His mom had given us change to make the purchases. Very cool. It was great to have the energy of a little one in camp.

So much wildlife

What a wonderful time it was. The workshop went smoothly and aside from the muskox, we saw otters, muskrats, beaver, a wolf, a bear, gold and bald eagles, swans, geese, whitefish, jackfish, loons, and many birds.

In fact, we woke up to birds singing and were serenaded to sleep by haunting loon calls.

Two participants saw a mamma and a young golden eagle up close when they went for a canoe ride. And on our last night we discovered a bear was visiting us. That became apparent when a participant got up to investigate a noise they heard outside their tent.

The bear was scared off with a shotgun…after scaring us, and thankfully it never returned.

We were well looked after by local people, including a cook, camp attendant, and an Elder. The camp attendant was standing by the canoe close to shore and he noticed a fish swimming nearby. Within two minutes, he caught the whitefish and a few minutes after that, the cook was cutting it up and cleaning it. We enjoyed the fish for lunch the next day.

Steven Tetlichi and Abe Bonnetplume find a place to sit while the rest of the group harvests medicine. Photo courtesy of Jean Erasmus

One night they took us out to pick spruce gum, Labrador tea and spruce tips. The lake we went to was almost totally covered with ice. Brrrrr. But the weather was perfect.

And, to boot, everywhere we went, people commented on the 15 counsellors who recently graduated from our six-semester training program. We were asked many, many times when we are putting on the next program.

The next Northern Indigenous Counselling initiative starts in September 2023.

It was truly a spectacular time, and we are blessed to be asked to do work in such wonderful surroundings with kind, generous, and knowledgeable people. Mahsi cho to the people of McPherson for your hospitality.

No question, we would go back up to the true Land of the Midnight Sun in a heartbeat.

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