When I say Temagami

March 12, 2009

By: Kate Kerrick, NWL Alumni & Staff

In the language of the Tema-augauma-anishinabi people, Temagami means, “deep waters.” Temagami is a lake, as well as a town of the same name. To some, Temagami is a place of vacation, somewhere to run a houseboat and go fishing. To others it is a livelihood. To me, it is the place where my heart is at peace, the home of my spirit.

Temagami is feeling, an experience. It is like a smell, something that will never be completely explained. The definition of Temagami cannot be bound by words of any language. And each person has a different definition. Temagami is the surrounding earth, water and sky. It is trust, the circle of friends. It is the flow of the water and the rush of river. It is the stillness of dusk and the reflection of the trees and the bright sky in the clear water. Temagami is the rock of the canoe and the rhythm of the paddle stroke. It is a memory and a fond sigh. It is the star-covered sky and the call of the loon. It is the northern lights. It is safety and strength. Temagami is the courage to face doubt and fear, and to triumph.

Temagami is a teacher. Each canoe trip upon her waters has its own trials; each day has its own challenges. Each challenge is difficult and demanding, yet each is overcome. I have been to Temagami and learned the patterns of myself. I have learned the simplicity and complex beauty of life. The most amazing experiences of my life have been in this wild land. I have felt incredible pride and power after lifting the canoe off my shoulders and placing it in the water. I have been afraid and doubtful, and have come out alive and grateful. I have been so tired, my mind and body were drained of any feeling except quiet joy and peace. In Temagami I have been humbled to the lowest level, and have been raised up to touch the sky.

Temagami, more than any other one thing, has shaped me, made me what I am. It is there that I have found my visions. Until I see those green trees against the clear blue water, until I feel the sway of the boat, and hear the gentle lullaby of the water, I will dream of Temagami.

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