(too-loo-gak): Inuktitut (the language of Inuit) word meaning raven

Melissa Cousins

Yellowknife, NT

I’ve had a few raven things happen to me, including the first week I came here. I chased a raven on my bike because I didn’t know what it was. And then I found it. I was this totally naïve Southerner on a two-wheel bike. I was almost embarrassed. One day I was out with Michelle. It was one of those fall days, beautiful and sunny. We wanted to go to the Yellowknife River to throw the line in and catch some fish, although I’ve never caught any fish at the Yellowknife River. It’s just the idea of going to the river to fish because it’s a nice day and the sun is shining. So we packed a lunch and away we went. Michelle and the dog and I got in the truck and got to the bridge about 10 minutes away. We hiked out to the end of the rocks. I was really hungry and sat down and started to break out a lunch of baguette and cheese and all these yummy foods. I looked out across the sky towards Giant Mine and all these ravens, maybe six, were coming across. I just looked at them and thought that I didn’t normally see flocks of ravens flying. You see a few, but this was almost like a flock, almost like Canada Geese, and they were coming right towards us. The closer they got, the more and more low to the ground they were flying. The last one just dropped down out of this formation right onto the rock in front of us a foot away. It just dropped there and looked at us, looked at me. I’m not quite sure what Michelle’s take on things was, but that raven was looking at me and I was looking at it. I had this funny feeling at the time. I felt like it was telling me something. I’m not quite sure what, because I’m just a dumb human. I was eating and it started to talk to me and cackle in its language. I thought it was interesting. It might be after food, but I didn’t get the feeling it was after the food. That was just sort of a secondary thing. It was just there, talking to me. It was telling me something. I had this funny sense. I just remember how black its eyes were. They were incredible, these huge black eyes staring at me. It stayed there for the longest time. The other birds carried on up the river, but it stayed there. It was this moment in time, almost like some sort of spirit had shape-shifted and was in the form of a raven saying something to me. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was saying, but I was listening. After a while, it just picked up and left. It’s still in the back on my mind. I thought about that experience a number of times. In a very deep way, in the past number of years, I’ve been going through a lot of personal soul-searching, trying to get a better sense of who I am and what I want and what I’m about. I look at experiences like that and I think there’s energy or force that exists and moments in time when you communicate with it or it communicates with you in a way you actually recognize. That was a moment and it was through a raven. It just caught me in a way that showed me there was a lot more around than what you think about on a day to day basis. I don’t even know how to describe it, except as something very deep. I haven’t finished my journey, but it was somebody who showed up along the way. I think I am lucky. I’ve had a variety of experiences along those lines. This is the first time I had one with a raven. I’m aware of some of the tradition and history of ravens and how intelligent they are. It’s interesting for me to have that in my experiences as well. It just wasn’t about the food.