When the new elders of today, especially the “residential school survivors” generation are thinking and reminiscing about their adolescence, remember that they were teenagers and youth in the 1960s and 1970s. These were very rebellious times for young people.
After much reflection, they will tell you:
That many of these new elders regret rebelling heavily as youth, quitting school, and dropping out of high school.
They regret the drinking, drugs, and partying every weekend.
They regret smoking cigarettes and tobacco very heavily, it is not cool.
They regret not learning enough, and not getting different types of training.
They regret not learning the French language.
They regret not helping someone or those in need.
They regret not pursuing musical aspirations.
They regret not getting into different sports.
They regret not taking better care of their health, especially their teeth.
They regret not choosing career and work wisely.
They regret how they treated their parents.
They regret not spending enough time with their parents.
They regret not paying enough attention to their children.
They regret not pursuing the traditional life and activities.
They regret not pursuing their dreams, now it is getting late to follow their heart.
They regret worrying too much about things that never happened.
They regret not letting themselves be happy.
These elders now understand that alcohol, drugs, and partying was not fun at all.
It was just peer pressure. The elders now regret that they lost so much time.
Nowadays, there is a lot to think about when there is a tragic loss of life among the youth.
When we loose the life of a youth, the elders see that this only causes much personal pain, family anguish, and community grief.
Leadership in the community
Have a purpose. Wake up to your purpose every morning.
Youth of today have so much opportunity: good education, good jobs, good professions, and careers. Choose to take care of family, buy and own your house, get a vehicle, and get the necessities for your children and assure to follow the ability to live off the land and to practice traditional pursuits.
How you live everyday is a choice, it is your life, choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly, and choose happiness. Take it one day at a time.
Life is a gift. Life is a gift from God. Take care of your gift.
The lives of our children and grandchildren are also gifts from God.
It is our responsibility to take care of these precious gifts.
Live today so that when you get to be elders yourselves, you will not regret what some of the present elders are regretting now.
Remember that we, the present Elders were teenagers and youth once. The many difficult issues that youth face today are not much different from 40 or 50 years ago.
Nevertheless, look ahead, the fact is that there is so much opportunity. There is a big world out there. Go out and see it, and learn from that.
You will be future leaders of the people and our community, choose to be good leaders and good role models. It will be your responsibility to make our future Cree Nation strong, healthy and prosperous.
A message from the Chisasibi Council of Elders