In a previous story (Oyster Garden 8 ) I spoke of changes in habitat due to climate change and rising sea levels. In that story I spoke of the island in Eskasoni that is no longer there. That island was located just behind the RCMP headquarters as we showed in aerial photos that illustrated that story. Every time I drive by this area, I can’t help looking to where the island used to be and think about the fine memories it brings back.
In this story I would like to extend beyond Eskasoni and take you to Malagawatch. There are some stories I would like to tell you about along with a bit of history. Imagine walking along the sand bar heading north. Once, if you walked to end of the sandbar there was an island there. Today it is gone.
This Malagawatch island was an ideal location for duck hunters who would place their decoys there and have plenty of places to hide. Community members from Malagwatch used to be pretty annoyed with the early morning shooting and the extra traffic with hunters on their way to the hunting areas. They liked to be in these blinds before 4:00 in the morning. Our people were tired of all the shooting going on but they wouldn’t say anything.
Getting back to the island and our story, if you wanted to collect eagle feathers this would be the place to go. The best time I found was in the spring when the herring were spawning and the eagles would feast on them. The feasting involved fighting and shedding of feathers. The island was also an ideal location for other species like fox, mink and otters.
Gabriel Silliboy told me about his nephew John I. Bernard and the time he decided to build his camp on the Island. John had come up with an idea just in case the water level or the wind came up and he thought it was a brilliant plan. No one paid much attention to what John was doing until, one day, Gabriel decided to go visit his nephew on the island. When he got there, Gabriel was amazed what his nephew had done. He had cut some trees and used them to build a stilt foundation.
In order to access the camp, you had to climb a ladder. According to Gabriel, it was quite comfortable inside and cosy. It wasn’t so easy when Gabriel decided to build a camp close to where his nephew John had built.
When you look west of the island, there is a nice grove of poplar trees and Gabriel loved working with poplar to make the fine flower pots he produced and sold to local craft shops. Gabriel started cleaning his little plot where he was going to build his future home.
He started in the morning but in the afternoon when the wind died down, the flies came out and he said had never seen such huge mosquitoes. He just packed up and headed back, never to return again.
Gabriel always commented how tough the late Lewis Joe was. He lived about 300 hundred feet away from where Gabriel was going to build his dream home. I’ll tell you Louis Joe story on an other day.