If a Number of white people came into your area without permission, how would you feel about that, your hunting and trapping area? In response, Chief Sonfrere stated:
“If such a thing is going to occur, they should consult with me, and I will consult with my people and there will be a decision made in such a thing, but they should never barge in like that.”
Quote taken from Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada: Essays on Law, Equality, and Respect for Difference
Judith and her sisters had no brothers, so they had to work just as hard and extensive as anyone else in their family. Judith and her sister’s with their mother and grandmother would have to get materials for the boats when the men went hunting. They would have to collect sap, willow and bark so it would be ready for the men to make when they got back from their hunting excursions.They would also make fish nets and set them in the water with their dad and uncles, there was nothing that Judith and these young women couldn’t do and their parents made sure that there were much disciplined in the traditional way of life and continued that tradition as long as they lived.
While raising her children, she raised them in a similar manner as she was raised, passing down traditional teaching and never yelled or swore at them. she was a very patient, caring, loving and understanding mother. She would often make special clothing for her children from a black and white swan jacket, to beaver parkas, to knitted socks. Her children were always surprised and grateful of the things they would make by hand for them. She always made sure her children were happy, even if they had no money she would find a way to make what her children wanted.
When Judith lost her husband in the early 1950’s and was left to raise her children on her own it was a very difficult time for her, but her sister Victorie would always comfort her and suppport her, in any way possible. They both cherished another and tried to be there for one another in any way possible.
They also enjoyed doing moose hides together. One time in Buffalo Lake the hunters shot two moose and in two days time they stretched, tanned and finished those moose hides by the time everyone was ready to go across the lake, the moose hides were already packed up and ready to go. they were very hard working women that never got mad at each other and enjoyed living their traditional way of life together.
These two sisters made two of the largest families on the Hay River Reserve, and it is to them that we are grateful for. They were a special, hardy breed that had witnessed and lived through much change in the native way of life. We all know what loving friends they were, especially to the ones that were in need of help. They love to give more then receive because they always had a lot of love to share with their friends and family.
Photo courtesy of Northern News Services.