Feeling at Home

By: Sam Calio, Community Journalism Trainer

I’ve now been living in Fort Albany for three months. The month of June has come with its challenges but it has also come with a sense of home. I feel like I’ve really been accepted into the community. Most people know who I am now and will stop and chat, but the real reason I feel at home: are my friends. 

When I think about it, it’s hard to believe that only three months ago these people were strangers. Now I don’t know what my life would be like without them. The Keesic sisters, Kim and Faye, have let me into their home and made me feel like family. They constantly feed me with endless pizza and jalapeno poppers. We’ve gone on countless drives along the dikes and all over town listening to early 2000s music. They don’t even find it strange when I show up unannounced and make myself comfortable. It means a lot to know I have a place to go when I feel lonely and need to surround myself with caring people. Kim, Faye and their family have given me that support and I am very grateful. 

Another person who has really made me feel welcome is the Deputy Chief, Bobby Nakogee. He was actually the first person I met when coming to Fort Albany, we were on the same flight. 

Bobby always makes fun of me, mostly because I like walking. But when he makes fun of me it just shows that he cares. 

 From left to right: Deputy Chief of Fort Albany Robert “Bobby” Nakogee, Deputy Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation Jason Smallboy and Chief of Fort Albany Leo Metatawabin getting ready for the National Indigenous Peoples Day barbeque. Photo by Robert Nakogee.

During National Indigenous Peoples Day Bobby kept asking me if I was excited to go home, my vacation was coming up soon. He just kept asking and asking and I kept giving him the same answer. I was excited to see my family and boyfriend and spend quality time with them. Eventually I asked, “Bobby why do you keep asking me if I’m excited.” He replied, “Because I know how it feels.” His family currently lives out of town. He explained that he knew the struggles of a long distance relationship and having to come home to an empty house. He was excited that I was going to reunite with my boyfriend and family and get the support I needed. 

Waiting for activities to start at Peetabeck Academy for National Indigenous Peoples Day. Photo by Sam Calio

At the end of that long day of food and celebration Bobby came up to me and gave me a hug. It was kind of like saying, we did it! It really made me feel like I had people around me that care and want to support me and my work.

Fort Albany definitely feels like home and I’m excited for my coordinators and family to come visit so they can experience this amazing place.

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