Center of the Earth: In Memory of Chief Randy Kapashesit, Moose Factory Island, Ontario

Center of the Earth: In Memory of Chief Randy Kapashesit, Moose Factory Island, Ontario

Chief Randy KapashesitBy David L. Andersen


In memory of Chief Randy Kapashesit of Northern Ontario, who passed away at a much too early age this past week.


As Chief of the community of MoCreebec and Council of the Cree Nation, on Moose Factory Island near James Bay, he was a well respected, dedicated and deeply spiritual leader. Randy was known as thought leader in ecotourism and community development in Northern Ontario, Minnesota and throughout the Great Lakes Region. He was recognized internationally as well, as a representative of the United Nations North American Indigenous Caucus, on the planning committee for the United Nations 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.


I had the good fortune to be asked by Randy to help him shape the design of his community's ecolodge development on Moose Factory Island.


On one particularly warm October day, a few years back, I had the pleasure to spend a magical day with Randy in a canoe fishing on the Moose River. That night I wrote the following of reflection on that time as I sat by the fire. I offer it now as a tribute to Randy Kapashesit, whose legacy was his reverence for the natural world that continues to inspire so many who knew him.


*Photo: Randy at the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference 2008 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (September 2008) - The International Ecotourism Society




In Memory of Chief Randy Kapashesit
Moose Factory Island, Ontario


October closes
It's autumn embrace
On this island world


Center of the Earth


Early morning eyes
Follow water taxis
As the day unfolds
And the charcoal river
Snags a spark from the sun


The icy waters flow north
Toward the Bay
As a lone seal swims south
To steal the catch
From a sleepy fisherman
Rocking in his boat
With the smell of gasoline
At his feet


The sound of the water
Laps the stony river edge
Turning the seal's gray head
The thief slinks along the shore
Then like a ticket taker
At the afternoon matinee
He slips below the surface
With a flap and a swirl


How can this island place
Be so many things?
A place of history
Where two worlds met

A place of despair to some
A place of hope to others
A place on the way
A place to stay


Center of the Earth


Smoke drifts from the chimneys
On the mismatched collection
Of wood frame homes
While tepees stand silent guard
Scattered against the cool air


Now still
Face to the north
As if to repel the coming winter winds
The Company of Adventurers
Who once manned these guns
Still haunt the nights
Around their stone cold grave sites
Always waiting
Not knowing
Where they truly were


Center of the Earth


Trucks now rumble
Down gravel roads
Toward the river
Loaded with dusty gear
For the fall hunt
Bringing home animals
Borrowing their spirit
In quiet grace
Until later


A sudden breeze
Sways the tops of pines
As if to remind
Those who have lingered
About their place
In the circle in life


Center of the Earth


As the day's passing
Fills a child's dreams
A young woman pulls on her coat
And waits hopeful
For the sound of a returning boat


The sun retreats to a low spot
Beyond the channel
And cloaks the horizon
In a crimson blanket
That falls gently
On the spike topped silhouettes of pines
So blessed
To be living in this place


Center of the Earth


The sky darkens
Boats return
Stars burst
The black cloth sky
With holes of light
That Swim over treetops
Until the island
Floats into the night
Like an ancient canoe
Cutting the still waters
On the way
To a distant shore


Holding paddles still
Just above the water line
The craft slips
Quietly into time


Center of the Earth



David L. Andersen

Architect and Writer David L. Andersen has been recognized as an international authority on ecotourism design for nearly 25 years. He served as a professional advisor to The International Ecotourism Society in it's formative years. His work on landmark projects like Lapa Rios Ecolodge, and Guyana's National Plan for Ecotourism Development are highly regarded. David worked closely with Chief Randy Kapashesit to give form to Randy's vision for the Cree Village Ecolodge. Find David on Linkedin, or contact him at andersenbydesign[at] or +1 651 398 4658.




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