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The story of Small Sun changed my life


ne of the privileges of during the fast and started writing for a living is walking up the hill. It was a hearing other people’s beautiful summer morning. stories. Everyone has one. “This is going to be nothSome are interesting, some ing,” he thought as he listened funny, some boring and, my to the birds sing. He got about favourite, some are inspiring. halfway up the hill when he For almost a decade, I’ve heard a voice. He looked been fighting an intestinal around but couldn’t see anyillness. There have been a few one. times when things weren’t “Down here,” the voice looking too good. What kept said. me going is the realization Small Sun looked down and Columnist that many people have been saw a snake. through a lot more and have “I cannot touch you,” he fought on. When I hear what others have told the snake. had to endure and their struggles of day“I won’t hurt you. Indeed, I could help to-day survival, I really have no case. you,” the snake replied. Then, there’s the privilege of listenSmall Sun asked the snake how he ing to oral stories that have been passed would help. from one generation to the next. Stories “I could keep you warm during your are part of aboriginal culture. Some of the fast,” responded the snake. best stories are told in my first language Small Sun thought about it, but then — Cree. remembered the words of the elders. One of my favourite stories is of a “You are trying to trick me,” Small young man who was about to become an Sun said. adult. The time had come for Small Sun “No,” said the snake. “I could even to prepare for a fast. “Small Sun,” elders sing you songs while you fast.” said, “today you will climb high on the Small Sun thought it was a good idea hill and fast for four days.” and picked up the snake. He held the A fast is still practised today by many snake close to his chest and immediately who follow the traditions of our ancesfelt warmth. He felt strength he never tors. It takes mental strength, commitknew he had. Then, all of a sudden, the ment and focus. There is no water or food snake took a bite. for three nights and four full days. There “Why?” Small Sun asked, as he felt are various ways to fast. But generally, weakness overcoming his body. the person fasting is left in a small hut “You knew what I was when you built from willow branches. The hut is picked me up,” the snake said. then covered with blankets and a tarp. This story is an analogy for those The person fasting is to stay in this small battling extreme addictions. I knew what hut to concentrate on praying. would happen when I abused alcohol. I Small Sun was instructed on what to knew what would happen if I ever stuck do during the fast. He was reminded time another needle into my arm, and I knew and again not to touch the snake as he what would happen if I ever smoked the made his way up the hill. “If you touch killer in the bowl of that pipe. the snake, it will kill you,” he was told. It’s a simple story, but one that Small Sun packed what he would need changed my life.

SASKATOONEXPRESS - January 11-17, 2016 - Page 9 AS70550.A11 Aaron

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Great friendship key to guiding golfer


(Continued from page 8) ou have to have a great friendship,” said Villeneuve. “To me, that is number one. If you don’t enjoy being there, it is going to reflect in the game, and you are not going to be able give 100 per cent. I think a guide has to be totally honest and just enjoy being there. “I want to give Gerry as much information as I can that is relevant to the shot to make him feel at ease and to give him some confidence, so he can make the shot.” Besides getting help from coaches, Nelson would listen to the Golf Channel on television and incorporate new techniques into his game. After coming back to the game refreshed from his break, Nelson was keen on experimenting with his game. “I guess through all the years of being competitive, the more you win the more you want to win,” said Nelson. “The competitive drive was certainly back more than it had ever been, but also was the desire to get better.” Villeneuve noticed a big improvement in Nelson’s game from the first time the two worked together. “Before, he would just get up there and hit it as hard as he could and have a little fade and not worry about it,” said Villeneuve. “We did have some very good scores back then. “But now, he has much more patience. His thought process is much more refined. He is just a more professional golfer, I would have to say, in almost every aspect of the game.” Over the years, Nelson has had the opportunity to play with golf stars like the late Ken Venturi, Lee Trevino and Gordie Howe.

While Nelson’s highlights in the sport are numerous, he admits that winning never gets old. He was excited to win the Canadian Open in July. Nelson said other Canadian Opens have had stronger fields, but it was still an accomplishment to pull out that type of victory. “If you are on top of the leaderboard, that is still a win, and they all count as such,” said Nelson. “It was gratifying knowing that our hard work has paid off, because I still thought that I played very, very well. “It was a very, very tough and demanding golf course. You would have some people question as to whether or not blind golfers should have even been on it. At the same time, everybody has to play the same course.” Nelson still has aims of winning the World Blind golf championship, which will be held in Japan in November 2016. He has never won that event, having placed as high as third back in 2012. Another highlight for Nelson is the fact his 12-year-old son, Wyatt Nelson-Zook, has started to take turns at being his coach/ guide with the help of Villeneuve. Thanks to these special relationships Nelson experiences on the course, he plans to keep playing golf for many years to come as long as he is in good health. “Not too much turns me on more than the sound of a driver hitting a ball or the ball going in a hole or something like that, and laughing and joking around with the buddies,” said Nelson. “It is a special thing. “I see no plans in the near future of letting up anytime soon. As long as I am able, it is something that I love to do it so much I just couldn’t imagine not doing it.”

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