On Being An Elder
My name is Nellie Makokis Carlson. I come born and raised in Saddle Lake, left the reserve in 1956 and I’ve lived off the reserve since 1956.
Had nine kids, one passed away, and I have several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, but about four or five years ago I was asked if I could be an elder to a school and that was at Prince Charles School and I came around to Amiskwaciy when it was formed, they asked me if I could come in there so I have been.
I do that only a small part of my life and that is three days a week and every other week. It’s just to give myself a time of rest. It's not a stressful work but it also means you use a lot of energy for something what you are doing to help all the students.
So I came in here about when Amiskwaciy Academy was first opened about seven weeks after when I was asked if I would be an elder. I asked myself, "What is an elder?", then I got to thinking, "Oh yes it’s a lifetime experience: What you have lived through good and bad. Also it's an experience where elders have this wisdom which they can pass on to the young people," and I think it’s a good thing to have old people come around and to be with the young people.
I sort of have, myself, come around and I put myself at their level, because times have changed and now this is a whole different new world for these young people, and one of them is that there’s so much alcohol, there’s so much drugs and young people have this stress put on them and yet they would like to learn more in school and then when they are in school. There’s also in there, some of them are sort of on the destructive way to kind of ease the pain. They kind of create problems in the classrooms and one of them is that you have to also make aware that it's not their fault, it's in the anger in themselves that they have to live through and they don’t know how to get that out of their systems.
This is what I look at, I don’t condemn them, it is just that times are harder in a modern system now. We lived, I think, in our time in the best times. We didn’t have the radio that much or the t.v. specially, or the phones so no cars, but when the cars first came on the reserves, we called them "jalopies" at that time and most of all our transportation was either walking, wagon or horseback riding in my time.
That is what we did, so really we had a very, ours wasn’t that "fast-lane" life. It was sort of very slow and awfully you got to know your people really well and I always think Indian people are some sort of different kind of people. They very, they are always laughing. They’re friendly and that’s our way of our happy, happiness and I still remember that.
I grew up on the reserve with these people. Now a lot of them are gone. It just seems to me now I’m all by myself. Those that I grew up with seem to be leaving us behind, but I still have to see that the young people have to grow up to be good, positive citizens, that’s my way of thinking.
I’d like to see, I think a lot of them will be especially in a line of education, its most important now that they put themselves in the field of education. That is most important that they get their degrees or else their papers so that they need their grade twelve education in order to get work, they need that I always say that to them whenever I’m talking with them.
Stories By Nellie Carlson
The following stories are by Nellie Carlson.
This digital collection was produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital Collections Initiative, Industry Canada.