The Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre hosted a cultural camp earlier this month and judging by the numbers, it appears to have been a very popular gathering.

The On The Land Camp was held from March 10 to 19 and was open to anyone who wanted to take part. A total of 36 people ranging from youths to Elders signed up for the camp, according to Joanna Ahenakew, the friendship centre’s executive director, and they were accompanied by eight staff members.

Ahenakew said the staff included a wildlife monitor, cooks, van driver, Elder’s helper and the camp facilitator, Sharon Pekok, along with Elder Kathy Mouse, who worked with Pekok on the organizing of the camp.

Each day of the camp saw everyone gather at the friendship centre in the morning and driven out to Paradise Garden and Campground, around 20 minutes outside of town.

“(The) youth were taken across the Hay River to set snares, traps and learn traditional knowledge and survival skills in the bush,” said Ahenakew. “Also connecting the youth with the Elders to share their experiences and to learn from each other.”

Kjel Crook holds one of the rabbits that was to be skinned during the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre’s On The Land Cultural Camp in March. Photo courtesy of Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre

The weather was mild for the duration of the camp, she added, ranging from -16 C to as high as 6 C.

Other activities over the 10 days included building trap boxes, skinning rabbits, learning to make a fire for survival, making dry meat, cooking bannock on a stick, storytelling and setting up tipis.

“Participants also listened to stories of the area, Treaty 8 territory and recognition of K’atl’odeeche traditional lands,” said Ahenakew.

Three meals a day, along with a healthy snack, were served to everyone, said Ahenakew, with everything made possible through funding from the GNWT.

The feedback from participants has been positive so far, she added, and that camps like this will continue in the future.

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