Vapour And Rock

FTLComm - LaRonge - Sunday, June 10, 2001, pictures by: Judy Shire

Northern Canada is and always has been a place where the extremes seem to be the norm. These intense pictures from La Ronge were taken a week ago while Judy was out walked and demonstrate the reality.

This first picture which is of an outcrop less than a block from PreCam elementary school shows the tenacious and yet fragile balance of trees and life itself clinging to what little soil is available in a desperate struggle to survive in such a hostile environment. These homes are directly across the street from that outcrop and the people also have to live their lives like the trees, struggling against serious and compound difficulties.

Minutes after she took these pictures the afternoon rain squalls had passed and left behind were the little low precipitation cumulus clouds that form in cold air when it rains. With turbulent and windy surface air these formations of water vapour seem to be a kind of life form struggling against all odds to survive and grow, while moment by moment faced with extinction.
Those who live their lives on the edge, just close enough to the rest of society feel like the little clouds, like the struggling trees and feel also that they are faced with extinction. The people of Northern Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, BC and the two territories face the harsh and most often, completely insurmountable problem of personal and group awareness. They are in-between cultures, the traditions of the past more than a dim memory yet the foreign cultures of America and mainstream society seem to make them feel forever as outsiders. Without a feeling of identity they and their children suffer the convulsion of being not of the present and unable to discern the disappearing past.

Sociologists describe this condition as "deculturalisation" and without an established self awareness, self esteem and determinable pride in one's heritage alcohol and drugs offer another consciousness, another reality that plasters over the emptiness that overwhelms them like the sky does this cloud.