When Alvin Fiddler (seated, left), former Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, was a boy in 1978, he and two dozen friends traveled 1,400 kilometers from Muskrat Dam in northern Ontario to Toronto, where they were captured by the photographer. Star Keith Beaty laughing. seeing their own faces on a television monitor. It was the first television they had seen.
“Our community was completely cut off from the rest of the world,” says Roy Morris, the local school principal, who has taught and provided spiritual guidance to the community since the early 1970s. “We had no electricity, no running water, no telephone. , except for one for community use, no internet, no airport, no highway ”, he says. “Renting a seaplane was our only means of traveling to towns and cities.
“From this environment,” he continues, “a trip to the big city was a wonderful adventure.”
Among the many places the children visited in Toronto was the rock radio station CHUM. There they were given T-shirts with their logo, which they put to good use when they returned home. “The guys called their baseball team CHUM,” Morris says. “The shirts became their uniforms and [the team] represented CHUM with great success. “
Morris is clearly proud of all the students, as he rejoices in their accomplishments both as youth and as adults. “Don Beardy (standing left) was our pitcher and he did magic with the ball. His pitches floated up and seemed to get stuck in baseball bats as they hit them. “Today Beardy is an artist who paints in acrylics.” He’s done some really good pieces, “says Morris.” He’s also a musician and performs on various gospel jamborees. He is also no stranger to pop music. “
Alvin’s cousin John Fiddler (seated, right) works for Muskrat Dam First Nation. “He drives and operates heavy machinery for various projects,” says Morris, who appreciates Fiddler’s important and challenging role in road construction and cleaning: “Road maintenance takes many hours, especially during and after heavy, heavy snowfall. winds and blizzards “.
Morris, 70, says he is “honored” to have supervised Muskrat Dam’s children for generations, including his own children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Recalling adventures with his own grandparents, Morris says, “My grandparents lived about 30 miles downstream from our community. [Sometimes] they would take me back to them. My grandmother made me a comfortable seat in the middle of the canoe. A sandwich of fish flakes mixed with blueberries was placed within reach. I spent my time looking at the shoreline and looking at the birds. “Once settled, Morris would help with the housework:” Collect firewood, get water for tea and cook, get fresh tree branches to carpet the teepee and tend the potato garden. “He and his grandmother picked berries, set up fishing nets, and smoked the fish they caught, while his grandfather hunted ducks and elk. The trio then rowed back to share the harvest with the community.” For a boy, ” he says, “this was a magical moment.”
Today, Morris continues his work to ensure the youth of Muskrat Dam have rich and fulfilling educational opportunities. “We still take our students on city trips,” he says, citing visits to Winnipeg, Ottawa, Edmonton and southern Ontario. “These trips still provide excitement and learning experiences.”
And he has great faith in the Muskrat Dam children. “They have a very positive attitude towards life, they are well informed, confident and responsible,” he says. “I am inspired and full of confidence in them. Once they come of age, I see a great future for our community. “
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