I always love the conversations in small-town NWT.
An elder in the community where I am now was recently commenting on how difficult it is for him to purchase shells for his rifle and how he relies on his gun to harvest his food. Commenting on the fact that most southern-Canadians use grocery stores (a luxury that he doesn't have), he said, "They don't have anything to do now so they sit around making silly laws."
A pretty profound comment, really, when you consider the Government of Canada's long history of developing policy without regard to the north (and sometimes developing policy for the North without consideration or input from the north). I like to think that's changing, albeit slowly.
The elder later went on to talk about how he has been in the community to visit family for a week now, and he's eager to get back out to his cabin in the bush. He said that the last time he was in the community for a week, he had a hard time getting un-lazy when he returned to the bush. He continued explaining that you always have to work hard when you're out on the land (cutting wood, hauling water, hunting for food, etc.) but that he liked it. He said, "As you get older, I think you have to move around more, not less. It greases the joints. It keeps you young."
I've noticed that every story an elder tells has a lot of wisdom behind it.
And the kids are just plain fun.
As I worked at a table in the gym of the crowded band/community office, a large group of small girls crept up behind me. They weren't making a peep and, after more than a few minutes, I turned to them and said, "Hello."
Then, one of the girls, ever so silently, asked, "Are we allowed to make noise?"
Thoroughly impressed by their politeness, I said, "Yes." I don't know what I was thinking.
Later, one of the girls asked me, "Are you married?"
I replied, "Yes."
A different girl asked, "What's your wife's name?"
I answered, "Fawn."
A few of the girls started giggling, the way that nine-year-old girls tend to do, but I didn't think much about it until one of the other girls approached me and, whispering, asked, "What did you say your wife's name was?"
I answered again, "Fawn"
Again, the girls started giggling. Another one of the girls stepped forward, shyly, and said, "Um, we have something to tell you. We thought you said your wife's name was 'Thong'".