My name is Tina Nottaway. I’m an Algonquin, within the Algonquin nation, originally from Barrier Lake Band, but I live in the territory within the Lac Vérendrye Park. Well, over 20 years now, we moved out of the reserve because of many things that were happening within the community. So we moved out, and ever since then, we have been living on the territory. We don’t have no running water, we don’t have no electricity. When I was young, I grew up in the bush not far from here, from this checkpoint. I was raised by my grandmother. All my life I was exposed to our way of life: how to take care of the animals, how to take care of the land, how to take care of ourselves, how to take care of everything, life in general. So it’s really important for us to maintain this way of life and have that connection with our Mother Earth.
There’s one of the problems that we have is that people don’t understand how and the way we live, and how we survive in this life. Because not everybody lives in the cities, not everybody lives in town, and not everybody lives on reservations. But there’s a lot of us that still do live on our territory and still carry on our way of life. And this is why we’re here today. We’ve been here last year, and we’ve been trying to voice our concern for the last 3–4 years about the moose. And just to make the general population understand, see through our eyes what we’re trying to protect. It’s not just for us native people, but it’s for everybody. So we continue to have what we have today. This is what we’re trying to preserve. And it’s a sacrifice that some of us have to make in order to for this to happen. Like my family already committed not to harvest the moose, but we do still have meat. Some of our people share, and this is how it’s done. This is why we’re trying the make the people understand. It’s not you, we’re not against you. What’s happening right now, there’s so much violence, there are so many hunters that are mad… it’s not personal, we’re not taking it personally for them. It’s a bigger picture.
Kacabagonégabwec. It’s more like you’re describing something or you’re describing someone. Because there is no specific word like in English… so the way we try to explain something is like describing like. I can’t even explain it… You know when it’s deep the snow, and you’re able to stand out of the snow… It’s hard to explain. It’s like you’re describing things, in our language.
I think the moose are aware. I think that’s why the elders are speaking to us and telling us their dreams they have. These are messages they tell us that speaking to them in their dreams. There is a connection there, that they have. As our elders, these are the things that they look for, that they keep an eye on. They believe in these dreams that come to them. So the moose are speaking, the mooses have their ways. It’s like my grandmother said that time when one of my aunties had a dream that she was in a tent, they were camping out in a tent, and then this moose would come running in their tent, trying to look for shelter, trying to find covers, trying to find someone to protect them because they are being hunted, overhunted.
This is what the Ku’kums are talking about here. So these dreams, this is what keeps us connected and keeps us going. And for the moose, they can’t speak so we have to speak for them.
That the biggest animals that we have here in the territory and they need a lot of space. So they need forests, they need mountains, because in the winter time, they go out to the mountains to bed down. But a lot of places where they stay, you know and they live, there’s a lot of clear cuts that happened over the years. So the moose, it’s not just the moose but there’s others like bears, wolves, and lynx, you know. They all play in the circle of life. So if one is disrupted, then the other one will start falling too. So it’s all connected too.
There has to be a balance. Like I always talk about balance because it’s part of our Anishinabe ways: that we have to find balance in the things that we do. Mainly, this is, for me anyways, reasons why we want this moose moratorium. I know there are a lot of other issues, that other people face all the time, like the logging in some communities, the water that’s being destroyed, the mining that’s taking place. These are all things that people should be concerned about. It happens to every community, it happens in different territories. It happens basically all over the world. It’s mainly. It has to be stopped. Period.