The two-day camp
taught the importance of Anishinaabe traditions, including how to
skin a beaver
people from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation learn the
steps to skinning a beaver. (Submitted by: Garett Cloud)
Young people from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation participated
in a cultural camp where they learned first-hand the importance
of the Anishinaabe traditions of trapping and hunting in the winter.
The hands-on, two-day camp taught life skills, including how
to make and set-up traps in a humane way and track animals.
But the best part, campers said, was learning to skin a beaver.
"I made a bit of a mess. It was a new experience for me
and I definitely learned something," said camper Jeremy Hendrick.
Weekes skins the beaver. (Ashley Albert/CBC News)
The campers were taught the lessons through storytelling and
sharing thanks to Great Lakes Cultural Camps, a family-owned business
from Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island.
Kyle French, youth justice advocacy coordinator for Chippewa,
planned the camp in response to questions from young people asking
to learn more about hunting and trapping.
"Being able to look at a track and say oh look a rabbit
or a muskrat. Something as simple as that, if it really came down
to it for survival you really need," said French.
He also wants to show Elders and knowledge keepers in Chippewa
that young people are out there willingly to learn these teachings.
As five youth gathered round a recently trapped beaver, Maheengung
Shawanda, told them the process of skinning starts by looking at
the sacredness of the animal.
The founder and director of Great Lakes Cultural Camps explained
learning how to skin a beaver takes time and patience.
"This way of life teaches us about patience. And it helps
us to slow things down, and it grounds us," said Shawanda,
skills that are useful in everyday life.
learned how to make and set up snares. After making their
snares, the campers were taught to place sticks around the
burrow of an animal. That lures the animal into the spot where
the snare is set. The animal walks through the snare and it
tightens around its neck. (Submitted by: Garett Cloud )
More camps planned
The theme of hunting and trapping for the camp coincided with
the hunting season currently taking place in southwestern Ontario.
Besides skinning the beaver, campers learned how to make and
set up snares, placing sticks around the burrow of an animal.
"When I have kids, I want to teach them what I learned.
Because not a lot of us have knowledge about our culture and all
of that." Tayden Grosbeck said.
youth listen to stories in the teaching lodge. (Submitted
by: Garett Cloud)
The campers enjoyed the cultural teachings and plan to put them
to use in their lives.
"I go out hunting every once in a while with my brother
so we could set snares there and build our own traps," said
Johnathan Week'es who hopes more youth will come out to the next
Organizers said there will be other camps planned based on Anishinaabe
seasonal teachings, including taping for maple syrup and an Indigenous
style games camp.
The hope is that seeing the young people engaged in land-based
teachings will encourage the Elders and knowledge keepers to come
out and share their knowledge at future camps.