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I recall there were buildings already here, as I recall, there was a Hudson’s Bay Company store. The whole
community had a boardwalk. It was built with plywood which was salvaged from the freighter boats that used to
come down the Albany River. The boardwalk ended at the Hudson’s Bay store and at Revellion store.
People used to walk around all hours.
Greg: During the evening, too?
Especially in the evening. People were fascinated by the boardwalk and that’s how they mingled and met people
in the evening. I said that freighter boats used to come down on the Albany River from Pagwa. Everything was
transported that way, including people like the missionaries, Hudson’s Bay Company officials and any other supplies.
They had come off the train at Pagwa. There was no barge coming from Moosonee yet. There used to be at least 20
of those freighter canoes come down the river from Pagwa bringing supplies as well as passengers. They even brought
down supplies for Attawapiskat community. Attawapiskat people used to come down to the Old Post to come and
get their supplies from the Hudson’s Bay Company and load their boats with supplies. Their boats didn’t have any
engines but they used sails.
I remember going with my mother to get some rations and I think they were fair because we could get some food
that we needed to sustain us. We used to get food rations from the Hudson’s Bay store. Food basics such as tea,
sugar, flour, oats and baking powder. This is the very first time I noticed that we didn’t have to pay for food.
I used to tag along with your grandmother or my mother to get their rations. That’s the way things were those days.
Later on, as the years go by, the assistance part got better, clothing such as underwear and some blankets were
included. I’m not positive about when social assistance began, it could be right after 1905, I don’t really know.
Yes, everything that we do get comes from the white way of life, that’s the way I understand it. As I recall, long time
ago, people did help themselves by the way of trapping and they bought essentials in order to live a good life. At the
present time, the way we live in our communities, economic situations in our communities provide everything that
we own e.g. furniture, outboard motors, houses and make it necessary for us to have these things. People are well
educated, therefore have better things and are able to afford them. This is the white man’s world we’re following. I’m
just giving you my own opinion about this. At this point of my life, I’ve seen how our way of life has evolved since
the arrival of the Europeans to our territory. At the same time, the natives lived and survived in the wilderness prior
to the arrival of the white man without any assistance of any kind. They were skilled hunters and trappers in order
to survive in the harsh environment and we still have those skills at the present time.
Greg: Indian people, long before that were able to run their own affairs, were self-sufficient and very
clever people. They were very healthy and their way of life contributed to that.
That’s what I heard but I don’t recall seeing it that far back. They must have been very clever to live in that harsh
environment and survive. When the Europeans came to Canada, no matter where they travelled they found natives
living in those areas.They must have been very clever people to be able to withstand those conditions, but nobody
really know how long they existed here in Canada. I asked two prominent people this very question, one of them
was Bishop Henri Belleau, who was a very smart person. I caught up with him on my way to Moosonee with dog
team and he also travelled the same way. I asked him, how are you? How do you like your ride? Bishop Belleau
replied, “I’m just taking my time and enjoying the nice day.” I told him we’re to be making a camp very soon. Later
that day, I asked him when did the native people exist in Canada? Where did they come from? Did the white
man live here first? He didn’t take long to answer me. He replied, “No one has the answer about the white man’s
existence. The only thing we know is that the natives were already here when the explorers come into Canada.”
He also said, “This is Indian land, not the white man’s.”


Economy by John Sutherland


economy Hudson's Bay Company Albany River boats supplies Attawapiskat food rations life assistance

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