When you get up to where we used to camp, our house was made out of logs that was halfway and the rest was a canvas. The floors were bare. I recall mama’u when she got up in the morning and she made puyas, which was Indian tea and she always fried bread, and she’d have it on the table when we’d get up.
The syrup in those days used to come in cans, and when you dipped your bread into the — that fried bread into that, it used to stretch like molasses and you used to have to turn your bread around to cut the syrup off. The one thing I liked about the bare floors is you never had to sweep.
Mama’u harvested the stinging nettles to make twine for an eulachon net and scoop nets.
As a little girl, I had very, very bad eczema on my hands and mama’u would take me at the back of the house to take shavings off of alder, soak a piece of cloth and wrap it around my hands to take the infection away.
She taught me how to harvest devil’s club to make medicine tea. Chief Gupsgolox, he still goes out to get hewood down our channel and mom prepares it for me.
Our traditional foods, the seaweed and the herring eggs and abalone are traded with a Gitga’at families, the Kitasoo and the Bella Bella family. We traded mostly with eulachon grease.
Mama’u and I harvested salmon berries, blueberries, thimble berries, wild cranberries, huckleberries, aseena (ph) — and I don’t know what it’s called in English — facetum (ph) — I think that’s called parsnip. We used to steal sugar from mom’s cupboard and dip it in there to eat. Elderberry, wild crab apples, apples and the stingy nettles.
Stinging nettles, that’s a job I didn’t like but mama’u gave me, because it stung if you didn’t pick it right.
My sister Lorna and I — I have six sisters and one brother — spoke Haisla quite fluently. When it was time to go to school, to the English-speaking school, we had to learn to speak English because that’s the only thing the teacher taught us in, but mama’u always spoke to me in Haisla.
I am the elder’s coordinator. I believe everything happens for a reason, why I ended up there at my stage in life. The Haisla language, I understand it, but I’m just learning how again to speak it. I so believe that everything happens for a reason and every reason is for a good reason. Being an elder’s coordinator and being with the elders and we’re sitting around the table and they speak Haisla, I’m starting to pick it up.
I’m also a bus driver for the three and four-year olds. It is a job that I’m so thankful for in this stage of my life and my age right now. The children, they light up your life. Early in the morning, my first pick-up is at eight o’clock and it’s still dark out. The last ones I bring home is at 4:00. In between that time I’m with the elders.
And then one day I was laying in bed and I thanked the creator for where I am today because it’s the children that light up my life and it’s my elders that put me into a peaceful sleep every night.
My grandparents, Walter and Violet Wilson, taught me a lot too. They taught me how to help whomever comes to you.
My uncle Taylor, when we were eight, nine years old, papa’u Walter used to tell us to go and help Uncle John, old John Hall, cutting wood with the old blades, with the hacksaw, big long thing, and we’d go and help them pack their wood up. Always help one another. Don’t have to be asked. Get up and help. “Wigella clab” (ph) — we help one another. I have instilled that in my children, help one another, my grandchildren.