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From Hollywood to goose hunting on James Bay

Friday May 16, 2014
One week, Wawatay News editor Lenny Carpenter was attending a Hollywood film premiere in Los Angeles; the next he was out goose hunting near the James Bay coast.
One week, Wawatay News editor Lenny Carpenter was attending a Hollywood film premiere in Los Angeles; the next he was out goose hunting near the James Bay coast.

When my college friend Tyler Angeconeb offered me the chance to join him on a trip to Los Angeles to attend a Hollywood premiere, I was esctactic.

After all, how many people get a chance to see an actual Hollywood premiere and the chance to mingle with celebrities?

To go see the Hollywood walk of fame, go to Universal Studios, attend an NHL game between the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks, and possibly meet some of the most famous actors and celebrities of our time.

And I did. I experienced all those things and I’m glad to have done it. I came back with stories to tell my friends and with memories I can look back on.

It was an interesting life experience that I may not get to experience again.

And a week or so after I was on the Sunset Strip and saying hi and shaking the hands of actor Johnny Depp and Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame, I found myself out in the middle of the bush near James Bay, taking part in the goose hunt.

It’s quite the contrast of experiences.

From enduring a hot sun with 20+ degree temperatures to wearing my winter coat and braving cold winds; from seeing palm trees on every block to being surrounded by tamaracks and black spruces; from walking on stars embroided with famous names to treading through the snow and muskeg.

But perhaps the greatest contrast is the meaning behind the place.

Hollywood is famous for being synonymous with the film industry. Thousands of people go there each year to try become an actor, writer, model, film director and on and on.

And there are people who go there to try to see those people who actually succeed those things.
When Tyler and I approached the theatre where the premiere was to take place, it was surrounded by hundreds of screaming fans trying to catch glimpse of the film’s stars.

While toned down, it was similar inside the theatre. As we entered, nearly every face in the lobby turned to our direction then quickly looked away. They had hoped we were some of the celebrities and when we disappointed them, they went back to their celebrity lookout.

Same thing again at the afterparty, though some people were actually part of the film industry.
And that’s where the whole thing becomes weird and silly.

Here are hundreds of people trying to be somebody they’re not who are trying to get close to people who pretend to be somebody else for a living.

We were just surrounded by fakeness. Nothing seemed that real. It seemed to be the case all over Los Angeles.

I won’t lie: I was excited and in a weird sense honoured to meet Depp and Nimoy and the other celebrities.

But it doesn’t compare to that day my dad and I left for our spring camp, to that feeling of hearing the first geese of the season, and eventually getting that first goose of the year.

And taking part in our little camp tradition of cooking up the first goose killed, no matter who gets it.

To go partridge hunting at the “dance hall” at dawn and watching those birds perform mating dances.

To sitting in that blind for hours, as boring it may become, and returning to camp with a goose feeling it was all worth it.

To laying at camp in the afternoon taking a well-deserved nap, or listening to the rain softly pelt our tent frame at night.

To listening to my dad’s stories from years past, and hearing about my mooshoom, uncles, great uncles and other who have departed to the spirit world.

To chatting with my cousin or uncle about the day’s hunt, sharing the little stories of missing or chasing the geese or laughing about calling geese that turned out to be cranes.

And taking part in an ancient Cree tradition, at a camp that’s been the family for a few generations now.

That’s what’s real. At least to me, a Mushkegowuk.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I went to Los Angeles and took in that experience.

But if Tyler had asked me to go a week or two later, I’d easily say no.

No thanks, I’d tell him. There’s a spring camp I need to be at.

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