Power Outage - Flames and Hearth: Wikwemikong Takes Care of its Own

The transformer blew up and promptly went up in flames and was reportedly heard some 20 air miles away on the Birch Island First Nation. We did not hear it – but we woke up to no electricity, and worse, no coffee. A disaster. Stumbling about at 0800 yesterday, and trying to make sense of it all, I slipped on my cape and whisked my survival gear into action.

Manitowaning the adjacent town to us also had the unfortunate issue of trying to keep warm, that arena of there is basically and tin shack. For us here on the rez, we have the latest of pretty much of everything. Elders were taken care of. A heating station at the high school was thrust into action. Soups donated by community members. Coffee and tea and water and warmth all available by our bus service. All by volunteers. Our rez of some 2500 souls spanning over some 98 miles of roads and into the remote communities all came together. Wiky is a land area of some 426 square kilometres.

It was not some thirteen hours later that the emergency task force of volunteers from our rez let us go for warmer quarters. And coffee.

Yesterday was a warmer day at minus 18 Celsius, and for that, we thanked the gods. Only 24 hours earlier we were skipping about at twice that temperature – minus. Yes. True.

Twenty-four hours later it back to usual. Schools open. Children happy and skirting about. Tired volunteers just cannot stop. They are back to their regular day jobs.

Images are some of the village of Wikwemikong, and the land beyond the water is a part of the rez. The high school is magnificent. Caring teachers and staff, as with the other two schools. The ruins are the residential school system burned down in 1952 I heard. People at the gas pumps for their vehicles and generators.

Before we left for warmer climes last night, I was reminded of how just pitch-darn-black it is without electricity. Overcast skies did not help. But it was also so quiet save for the generators. This is what I grew up in. Light by kerosene lamp. And when they went out, it was bye-bye. Good night! Yes, this was a pleasant reminder of a simpler life, and people actually having conversations and actually visiting, and sharing stories, and seeing folk one does not have the time in our fast-paced lives, and people just helping another. The way it used to be. It brought a warm hearth deep into my soul, in a very quick and chilled night. Hello darkness… Next time I shall be better prepared, ‘cause its coming folks – again.

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