By Rick Garrick
PIC MOBERT FIRST NATION—An Elder’s emotional comments about his children being taken away to residential school encouraged others to share their experiences at Pic Mobert’s Come Here Look for the Good Life gathering on March 14.
“It was emotional,” Pic Mobert Chief Wayne Sabourin says, noting that the Elder spoke candidly about how he started to drink alcohol after the government sent his children to residential school. “And people started opening up and telling stories about different things that happened in their life long ago. So it was good — I think it was well received by the people who attended.”
The gathering also featured comments from former National Chief Ovide Mercredi and Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare.
“I’m talking about how important it is for our people, not just to assert their rights to land and resources and to create an economy, but to make sure they are healthy enough to enjoy the progress they are going to make,” Mercredi says just before Deputy Grand Chief spoke. “Because when people put their minds to dealing with their poverty and they decide to make the economy a priority that will happen. That’s the easy part. The most difficult part is making sure that whatever opportunities you take, your people can take advantage of them because they are qualified and they are willing and they are healthy. So the message clearly is about how important it is to deal with drug issues that are in our communities, whatever remnants there are about social issues like alcoholism, and to make sure we put an end to the apathy that’s holding back a lot of people from realizing their dreams or their full potential as individuals.”
Mercredi enjoyed meeting with the community members during the gathering.
“The people are excited here, so obviously they have a desire to improve their human condition,” Mercredi says. “We’re dealing with the revival of our human spirit as a people. We need to focus more on the kindness that we need to make sure that we all treat each other with respect and that we move together with unity.”
Deputy Grand Chief noted that a couple of youth walked out of the gathering after he raised the issue of drugs and alcohol.
“But they came back in and they came and talked to me one-on-one,” Hare says. “I said ‘This is what we want to see as leaders, open up to us or to one of our workers and let us help you, don’t run from us’. So we’re opening up those doors because we do want to work with them, and this is how it begins.
Hare added that it was an “awesome” day in the community.
“This is the first time I saw a turnout like this,” says Deputy Grand Chief. “It’s so awesome. The hall was full.”
Pic Mobert Deputy Chief Johanna Desmoulin says the community is bringing in “a lot of revenue” from economic development initiatives, including the White River Forest Products sawmill and a 19 MW hydro-electric dam on the White River, and has signed a Land and Larger-Land Base agreement for about 16 square kilometers of provincial Crown land.
“We’ve done a lot of economic and political items and now we are looking at the people – the people have to get on board and we are bringing them along,” Desmoulin says. “Today is the first day of starting to live a good life or restoring who we are as a people.”