I have been asked to introduce myself, which I always find difficult. Before I begin, I want to acknowledge and honour you, our Elders, and our Children and Youth—I pray that you are doing well in these uncertain times. A wise woman advised that we could never really experience another person’s experience; we could only experience their behaviour. It is far too early to create assumptions or expectations about the nature of my behaviour. That only comes with time, and time is a delicate thing.
Lately, I have been preoccupied by the idea of anemoia. Anemoia means nostalgia for a time you have never known. Perhaps, as I get older, I misremember instances of my childhood. Do I create good memories that never really happened to replace bad experiences that I think happened? Or, do I create bad memories to replace the good experiences that I have never really known? Are we drifting into a new paradigm of fictional realities to replace actual experience?
Here’s a bit of biography. I am Wood Land Cree. The Cree expression for “no” is “namoya.” Anemoia—namoya. “No” and “never” look like relatives when you squint your eyes. They are not so far apart. I heard namoya a lot when growing up in the place where I was born, Fort Vermilion. It is located at the northwest end of Alberta—a tiny town (a hamlet really), which experiences hot summers and very cold winters. I am nostalgic for the summers, but I think my truth was forged in ice and snow.
As the new Band Administrator, I am grateful for this life—and ask your permission to walk your land; pray in your woods; be at your side; and commune with you, Council, and our colleagues and friends as we make the road by walking. My name is Norman Champagne, and what really matters is your biography—who you are, where you come from, why you are here, where you are going, how do you want to get there, and how can I help. Help is important to me. Well, there are two words important to me: love and help. One cannot exist without the other, and that is the summation of a life that is being lived—do I love enough; do I help enough. I am still learning how to love; I hope I can help. My grandfather once said to me there is no “I” in Team, but there is “U” in Ugly. I think he was trying to tell me something. Thank you.