I read the "Jean Marie Memoirs," a book put together by some of the more literate members of the community. It is very engaging, it tells the life stories of some of the elders and traces their families back to the three sisters that founded the community. The founding family's names are Norwegian, Hardisty, Sanguez and Sake I believe. Jean Marie originally served as a camp area for men on fishing trips until one of the elders told the people to built a community where their kids could be educated on the land. It was a good place because of its proximity to Kelly Lake and other fertile waters where they could be certain jackfish would be found. 10 families lived here in the beginning and it was a very peaceful, isolated community. Everyone spoke Slavey and men did men's work- hunting, trapping, setting nets, chopping wood, and women did women's work- kids, preparing meat, cooking, preparing moose hides, sewing, beading etc. When men came home from hunting they shard their kill evenly with the rest of the families, the kids respected their elders and no one was lazy or drunk. The only time people could afford to charter the plane to Fort Simpson was for doctors check ups every three months. The school came to jean Marie in 1958 and was named after an elder of the community who died in a boating accident and fell through the ice of the Jean Marie River (Louie Norwegian). The elders in the book speak a lot about the value of hard work, how life is work and a native man's life should be work in nature. Meat was prepared daily by drying and smoking it and drinking water was drawn from the river after digging a hole through the ice, or big pales of snow where brought inside to melt.
You know it's -20 when your nostrils stick together and you get a cold burning sensation up your throat when you breathe through your mouth. The boots I brought from home are giving out to the cold and my fingers have started to freeze inside my gloves at recess. The moon is as bright when I walk to school as when I walk home.