Portraits of the North
These stunning images, drawn in pencil by Gerald Kuehl are part of a series entitled Portraits of the North. We are delighted to feature two of the drawings in this issue of The Arrow, along with short biographies of each Elder. We hope you enjoy these beautiful creations as much as we do!
Lottie Moore, Nelson House Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (1904–2003)
Lottie was born in Nelson House but like most of her generation, grew up on the trapline. She had a busy but happy life and was tasked with helping her mother prepare skins, cook meals, and sew clothing. “While the men were checking their traps, we’d set rabbit snares close by our cabin.” Lottie understood the value of hard work; the land would provide but laziness was never rewarded.
Later in life, Lottie raised many children besides her own, and considered it a blessing from the Creator. To feed her family, Lottie enjoyed casting her fishing net on warm summer days.
Lottie recalled how she once crossed paths with a conservation officer at a time when the province began to dictate where and when Aboriginal people could hunt and fish. Lottie was alone in her boat when two men approached. One was an officer who insisted Lottie present a permit allowing her to fish. Lottie pointed heavenward and informed the officer: “Only the Creator, and not some paper, can decide whether I catch any fish today.”
Lottie Moore, a respected grandmother, always stood up for what she believed in. At the same time, she greeted each day with a twinkle in her eye and could not fail to leave a positive impression upon those she met.
Mabel Bignell, Opaskwayak Cree Nation (The Pas)
Mabel was born in The Pas in 1945 and attended school there until the eighth grade. Following the loss of her mother in 1960, she, along with her sister and brother, moved to Dauphin Residential School where she finished most of Grade 12.
Mabel then returned home to The Pas, and married Moses Bignell. They were blessed with five sons, and eventually their family grew to include five grandsons and two granddaughters.
As a young woman, Mabel decided to return to school; she went to Brandon University and received her bachelor of education. She taught kindergarten and Grade 4 for five years. Then, from 1984 to 2002, she taught the Cree language locally and at UCN in the Restorative Justice & Conflict Resolution program. Mabel has also been a member of different language committees, both locally and provincially.
Mabel enjoyed working as a developer of Cree language curriculum. “I still work with the school and teachers in language whenever I am needed, though I retired in June, 2002.” Mabel is a member of the Council of Elders at University College of the North.
You can view all 11 portraits at our 2-1100 Waverley office in Winnipeg.