The world is waiting for them

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I am thrilled to see posts on Facebook showing that members of my family from the James Bay coast are reaching out and traveling the world. Right now my niece Brianna Wesley is with her friend Clarice Friday in Japan. This is Brianna’s first big international adventure and she seems to be loving every minute of it. Her friend Clarice has done a lot of travelling over the past few years so I know they are a good team.

Of course I realize her parents, my sister Janie and her husband Brian, along with siblings April, Marissa and Willie are all concerned for her safety in travelling so far away but I trust Brianna’s judgment and I understand that Japan is a good place to start with international travel. I was only in the country for a day but I have researched it and find that the Japanese culture is proud and organized with a vast history. I also realize that the Japanese hold Native Canadians in high esteem and they have a big interest in our culture.

It makes me feel great to see Brianna heading out into the world, discovering new cultures, eating new foods, seeing many beautiful sites while making new friends. I remember how exciting it was when I first started to travel with more than 20 years ago. The international airports were huge and it felt great to be part of the travel world. I loved air travel back then a lot more because it was new to me to be flying in huge jets at 30,000 feet for hours. I was amazed that I could leave northern Ontario and head to Toronto and then get on an aircraft and travel anywhere in the world.

I had to learn how to research and produce a travel agenda and budget so that I knew where I was going, where I was staying, what it took to get around regarding transportation and what kind of budget I had to stick to. This was all very exhilarating and a lot of fun.

It amazed me that I could find so much information on the internet before embarking on a voyage. I studied the best tourist visits, the history of the countries and the people I planned on seeing and any issues or problems that I might encounter. There was a lot of work involved and sometimes my travel plans did not work out or I did not plan well enough and I ended up in challenging situations. For instance, a friend and I arrived in Rome on Easter Sunday without a hotel booking. That meant that we had to wait around a railway station for hours trying to locate a room for the night. As luck would have it we found one with the help of an on-location travel agent.

Another time we landed in Milan without a hotel booking on a weekend when the city was hosting a fashion event. I did not realize Milan is the fashion capital of the world. All the hotels were booked and we ended up spending the night on the street outside the central station. It was a very scary night until a Sardinian man came in late for the train and also found himself with us on the street. He was a tough and savvy man who came to our rescue and showed us how to protect our bags while chasing muggers away from our space. Later we were joined by a group of Chinese men who all knew forms of martial arts and helped us further protect our space. What a night! We were all very happy when the train station opened its doors in the early morning and we grabbed a train to Venice.

Right now, another niece, Naila, and her mom Christine are travelling in Spain, visiting Barcelona and other parts of the country. This incredible mom-and-daughter team has a wealth of travel knowledge as the two have been to many places in the world. I know they are having a great time and taking care of each other while my brother Lawrence (their husband and dad) finishes up his work back in Attawapiskat.

I am always encouraging First Nation people to travel if they can. I am a big believer in education through travel. I know that over the next few years many young First Nation people will be heading out to see the world and I encourage them to do so in a safe and organized manner. The world is waiting for them.


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