MBMF and Hydro Team Up to Host Indigenous Youth Camp
In 2016, Manitoba Hydro approached the MBMF with the idea of developing a pilot program for an outdoor environmental camp for Indigenous youth. The camp had four objectives:
- To provide an opportunity for youth to learn about trapping and traditional plant use and identification
- To educate youth on safety around power lines and MH career opportunities
- To provide knowledge transfer of trapping and traditional practices through participation of Elders
- To educate and train youth on environmental monitoring activities
The week long Fur, Feathers, Fins and Transmission Line Camp was held in late August 2016 with 8 youth attending from Swan Lake First Nation, Dakota Tipi First Nation, Roseau River First Nation and the Manitoba Metis Federation. The camp was held at the Sandilands Forest Discovery Centre, located near Hadashville, MB. The MBMFs role in the program was to develop and deliver the training program for Manitoba Hydro and to be on-site 24/7 during the camp.
Over the course of the 5-day program, the youth participated in a number of activities. These included:
- Taking the provincial trapper education course and learning how to skin a muskrat
- Learning about the importance of cultural practices from Elders
- GPS navigation and geo-caching
- Wilderness survival
- Environmental monitoring (including wildlife and plants) and safety along hydro transmission lines
- Swimming and fishing at Falcon Lake
- Forest health monitoring
- Careers at Manitoba Hydro
Plenty of time was also provided to relaxing in this boreal forest setting. Favourite past-times were blueberry picking, playing hide and seek, and catching frogs and snakes.
In addition to the above, all were entertained by Ray “Coco” Stevenson (a member of the music band Eagle and Hawk), through his talents of drumming and singing. A traditional feast was also held and the program ended with an official graduation ceremony. Judging by the comments received from the youth on their evaluation forms at the end of the program, all enjoyed the experience and learned a lot. For many, it was their first time away from home. Many new friends were made over the short time they were together. Manitoba Hydro and the MBMF are currently evaluating the potential for hosting one or more similar camps in 2017.