“We do this every year at the same time. We teach [youth] about their culture and how life was lived a long time ago.” – Kerry Muswagon.
Late April is geese hunting season in Pimicikamak/Cross Lake and every year at this time, Kerry Muswagon takes a group of 15-20 students from Otter Nelson River School on the land.
Kisipanakak Goose Camp provides youth with the opportunity to learn and practice plenty of skills. Outdoors, youth learn how to build shelters, set decoys, and practice goose calls and gun safety. When not hunting, they put other skills to the test, like fire starting, baking bannock, and cooking for groups.
It’s important to Kerry to teach youth about their culture and how to harvest food from the land because not all students have the chance to go hunting with their families outside of school. According to Kerry, parents of participants appreciate that their kids have this opportunity. Though elders don’t always have the strength or means to harvest game from the land, they have the knowledge to share on what to do with it. Kerry is proud to support these elder-youth connections. After camp, students bring game that they caught home to their families, where many youth learn from their parents and grandparents how to process and cook the meat.
Daniel and I joined the youth on their hunt last month. We learned from Kerry that fuel, food, and equipment are becoming more expensive, making it harder to run land-based programming in the North. Food Matters Manitoba provided some additional funds this year to support Kerry’s goose camp. Participating alongside youth in the hunt was a great opportunity for us to visualize how these funds were spent, and experience first-hand the benefits of getting out on the land.
Kerry is already planning a year-end fishing trip for the grade 8’s at Otter Nelson River School. In June, students will paddle out on the lake to set nets and celebrate another successful year of school with a feast of freshly caught fish.
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Written by: Matt McCormick, Program Coordinator
Photos from 2016 Kisipanakak Goose Camp