Sachigo Lake First Nation Elder overcomes long-standing fear of water with their KIHS teacher

In June 1982, Martin McKay, the first chief of the newly formed Sachigo Lake First Nation, and one of the founders of the Windigo First Nations Council, said goodbye to his wife, Margaret, and went out for an evening boat ride. He never came back. Somehow, Martin drowned in the lake that evening leaving behind Margaret and 4 young sons.

Margaret Hudson, Martin’s widow, now remarried, has avoided going out on the water for 26 years, ever since that fateful day. This summer she decided it was time to overcome her fear and get back on the water so that she can enjoy boating and fishing with her family including her grandchildren Josh and Alanis, who live with her in Sachigo Lake.

On Sunday afternoon, September 14, 2008, Margaret took that big step in a canoe with Eli Pivnick, a high school teacher in the Sachigo Lake classroom of the Keewaytinook Internet High School (KiHS). "I was hoping to find a nice calm day but there have not been many of these lately. Today seemed like the right day in spite of the wind," said Eli afterward. Her grandson, Josh, saw her off at the dock.

"I was screaming inside and I prayed the whole way", said Margaret. Afterward, she said that she "felt good". The pair took the canoe out from the main dock, around a nearby island currently used as a community cemetery, and came back, paddling through wind and waves the whole way. "Margaret seemed calm and we talked the whole way about all kinds of things," Eli reflected. "For someone who has not paddled for so many years, she has not lost much." Margaret now hopes to resume lake activities where she left off so many years ago. This winter Margaret will be working with KiHS students teaching them to tan hides and make moccasins.