MRS. GLADU: My name is Mary Gladu.
RICK BELCOURT: Can you tell me how long your people have been settled here?
MARY GLADU: They have been here about fifty-five years. They were trappers. They didn’t live here at first. They just came here to trap at first, before I was born. I was told afterwards that my dad moved here. They built small cabins for trapping — just log houses. They were plastered with mud and their roofs were poles with dirt on top. They cut out a wagon trail. They had a few head of cows and horses, and travelled on wagons. I don’t know how many there were because most of them had all died before I was very old. My dad (?) Gladu, and my grandfather, Philistine Gladu, have died. My uncle, Isidore Gladu, was with them also my aunt, my mother who was a Gladu, and my dad who is a Belcourt.
RICK BELCOURT: Can you tell me where these people came from?
MARY GLADU: They all came from Lake Ste. Ann, but they stopped and had homesteads near Grande Prairie — I don’t know how many — six families, I was told. Alfred Gladu, Urbane Gladu, were different Gladu’s, not brothers of my grandfather. He was a different Gladu.
RICK BELCOURT: Where did the Indians sell their furs and who bought them?
MARY GLADU: There were stores here at Kelly Lake a long time ago. I can remember Jim Young, but two other fur buyers had a store here for a while. Sometimes they sold their furs at Grande Prairie. Sometimes they went by horseback to Dawson Creek, my dad told me. They camped somewhere straight north from Kelly Lake. There was only a horse trail — a pack trail. They used to pack horses to go to Dawson Creek. It used to take them four days, there and back. There was a fur-buyer there — I think his name was Austin. I can’t remember much [about that time] — I was only a small girl.
RICK BELCOURT: How did your people get medicine when anybody was sick?
MARY GLADU: They used to get roots and boil them. My father knew quite a bit about it. He used to tell me what kind of roots he used. He used to boil roots from the meadow when the kids got sick. They boiled something for diarrhea too, but they never showed me.
RICK BELCOURT: How long has the Catholic priest been coming to Kelly Lake?
MARY GLADU: It must be over forty years. Father Giroux was the first — with a team of horses, he used to come. After that Father Jungbluth, still living, is the one that built the church in Kelly Lake. He used to come with one horse and a cart, then a buggy. In the wintertime he used to come. After that he had a motorcycle. After he built the church he used to come in a truck. Now he has a car with a loudspeaker on it. He had an operation in Prince George not long ago, and nearly died. He will have to retire pretty soon — he is getting pretty old.
RICK BELCOURT: Did the Indian people fully accept the Roman Catholic faith? Did they like it?
MARY GLADU: Oh yes! Mostly the old people go to church every time the priest come here, but the young people don’t seem to care about it any more.
RICK BELCOURT: Can you remember any way in which the Indian people entertain themselves?
MARY GLADU: At first when we started, we used to play bingo to raise money, and we put it in the bank. After about three or four years, we started to build our community hall, where we danced and play bingo. There is now electricity in there and a heating system, too. The people have their own music. A lot of them can play guitars, and sing real good. My son-in-law is about the best singer in Kelly Lake.
RICK BELCOURT: How did the older people amuse themselves when the men were out trapping?
MARY GLADU: Oh, they didn’t go out very much. Sometimes I go visiting but not very much. The other night a woman went to play bingo at Dawson Creek. I went to sit with Mr. Sid Gladu. He was telling stories about the time they used pack with dogs and snowshoes — how they had no cabins out on the trapline. They had to use their snowshoes to make campgrounds under the spruce trees.
RICK BELCOURT: Can you tell me how the Indian trappers got along with the white people? Did they have any fights?
MARY GLADU: No! Never! They never used to fight. No white men came in to fight with Kelly Lake people. They are nice people, most often they are good to us. Most of the white people around here get along well with us. We have known them ever since they came to make their settlement around Goodfare.
RICK BELCOURT: They were always fair in their dealings with Indian people?
MARY GLADU: Oh yes! They are all nice. All of the storekeepers we knew at Goodfare were pretty good. Pete Theissen is about the best fur buyer ever was at Goodfare.
RICK BELCOURT: Are there many berries and fruits that Indian people pick around here?
MARY GLADU: Yes, there are wild strawberries, and wild raspberries and saskatoon, but for those we usually went to Saskatoon Lake, – to pick on Saskatoon Island. Now that we have power, we mostly freeze them but we used to can them.
RICK BELCOURT: When I was a boy we used to hear stories about “Wee-sac-ee-jac”. Can you tell any of them?
MARY GLADU: Yes, a few of them. Like the one I told you last night about the time “Wee-sac-ee-jac” wanted to marry his own daughter
RICK BELCOURT: I guess these stories were told by the old folks to teach children.
MARY GLADU: My grandfather used to tell this story a long time ago.
RICK BELCOURT: How did the old Indians celebrate the Great Spirit? And what did they call him?
MARY GLADU: I don’t think I can tell you because in my grandfather’s time there were priests already. My grandfather was half-French. There were priests along when they came across the country.
RICK BELCOURT: From the Kelly Lake people having so many French names, I imagine there is much French ancestry.
MARY GLADU: Yes, I think my great-grandfather was a Frenchman, and my great-grandmother was Indian. That’s how we got our French names.
RICK BELCOURT: When we spoke to Sid Gladu yesterday he said the Crees were much mixed with the Saulteaux. Is that correct?
MARY GLADU: Yes, that’s right, but I was too young to know how that happened.
RICK BELCOURT: How did the school get started?
MARY GLADU: I was eight years when the school started, and I went to school. There was Jim Young’s great big store. That’s where we started. The first teacher was Gerry Andrews. He was young at that time [in 1923]. He came to see us not very long ago — he is old now. I am fifty-six now, so it was about forty-four years ago.
RICK BELCOURT: What did they teach you?
MARY GLADU: At first when I go to school, I don’t know how to talk English. I didn’t understand one word. They started with “A,B,C,D …” and how to count. In one year I was in Grade 1. I stayed in school for a long time, until I was seventeen. I didn’t do very good, but not too bad either, because I passed my grade 6. I went back to school about three years ago, I sure enjoyed it. I can get an education right here in Kelly Lake.
RICK BELCOURT: Do you know anything about the Beaver Indians? Have they ever had any problems with the Cree Indians? How was it really? Did they get to know each other?
MARY GLADU: No, they don’t usually go together. These Horse Lake Indians don’t usually come. Because they are on the Alberta side. They can’t come to B.C. to trap. But when they see each other, they get along pretty good. There are hardly any left now. There are some Cree treaty Indians in Horse Lake, but not many Beaver Indians in Horse Lake, but not many Beaver Indians now, not more than two or three.
RICK BELCOURT: Do you know why they never mixed? Is there any reason?
MARY GLADU: (Hesitates) I can’t really tell you why. I could, but I don’t want to.