Adrift on the Bay

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Told by Harry Scipio, Chisasibi
Translated and transcribed by Brian Webb

Once my late father was with a group of hunters on a sheet of ice that drifted away into open water. That story amazed me. I shall tell this story.

We were camped at Mânhîkuskâkimî. The men made their way to a group of Inuit. The Elder of that Inuit camp was called Kâ Wâbikhushit (Clothed in White). Three of our men went there by dog team. The Inuit Elder ordered that they shall all go seal hunting.

In the morning, the wind blew strong. All the hunters left by dog teams. They reached the floe edge. The wind was getting stronger. Eventually, they knew they were drifting away from the mainland.

They headed back towards the mainland but the ice had broken off. They saw the water where the ice had split apart. They could still see the ice on the other side of the gap. They unloaded the canoe from their sledge and paddled across.

The Inuit Elder’s sons were taken across first, plus three dogs. One of the dogs was from my father’s team, still a young pup. They went back for the others after they unloaded the first trip on the mainland ice. The drifting ice was beyond sight now, but they still paddled out. They eventually reached the group on the drifting ice sheet.

They abandoned my father’s dog team. The Inuit Elder wanted to load his sledge on the canoe. The canoe swayed dangerously. They decided to push the sledge off the canoe into the water.

They paddled long and the wind blew strong. They eventually reached the mainland ice. It wasn’t at the same spot as before. They hauled their canoe on the ice and the first group taken across were out of sight.

My father was with Chîmanikûk Chshâyyu (Old Ship Cook – George Snowboy Sr). He began running to look for the others. He knew which direction they were. As he ran, he called out and listened for them to call back.

He finally heard someone. He sounded like he was crying. He called out and ran towards the sound of the crying. He then saw the young Inuit crying.

He said to them, “We’ve arrived. Come on.” They all ran back to where the others were. They saw the trail of the others and followed. Once they reached the others, they all began walking together. They walked for a long time.

They knew they were on land now by the shore ice that is all piled up and broken. They pulled the canoe up the shore.

The Inuit Elder told us to wait. He wanted to walk around. He left but wasn’t gone for long. He came back and said that there was probably a nearby lodge in that direction.

They headed for that direction. They untied the dogs and the dogs ran off. The dogs sensed where the lodge was. They finally reached the Inuit’s home near the trail.

This was the story told by my father. There were three Cree men – my late father, Chîmânikûk Chshâyyu and Charlie Bobbish. They lost all their dogs and their sledges. They dragged their canoe with them. They lashed the dogs they had saved to pull the canoe.

This was such a dangerous experience. This is the story of my father. They where in a very dangerous situation when they drifted away on a sheet of ice.


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