Celebrating getting back to the land at ‘Lands Culture Camp’

By Kathy Smith
The first annual Lands Culture Camp was held at the Old Fort from August 11th to 14th.  Marilyn Norby-Gairdner is Field Coordinator with the FNFN Lands Department, and she coordinated the camp logistics and activities with co-worker Jasmine Netsena.
With a new mandate to organise activities designed to get band members back out on the land, Norby-Gairdner says; “It’s about providing opportunities to get back out on the land and learn about different areas of our culture – for example, processing moose meat.  It was awesome.  I would say each day we had probably around 100 people or so.  Our recreation department brought groups of kids out, and the family support workers brought families out.”
Transportation was organised to bring elders to and from the site, and some people camped outside throughout the event.
“People really enjoyed it. Of course we had all kinds of good food going, lots of cooking everyday with three meals a day. We cooked as much as possible on the fire pits.  It was a time for people to get together, socialise, and learn about the history around the Old Fort,” says Norby-Gairdner.
Just prior to the event, organisers and helpers were getting worried that they might not have a moose for the cultural portion of the camp.  Just in time, one moose was shot up river on Sunday at noon, and another was shot at around 4 a.m. on Monday.
Processing moose meat was one of the biggest highlights, and all ages took part in cutting the meat.  People played hand games, listened to the drummers, and took part in many other activities.  Important as well, they learned about traditional practices like respecting the fire, respecting the food they are eating, and giving thanks to the animals who give their lives to provide the food.
“It was a success – we had really good feedback from the community on what was there.  It was a lot of work to organise, but it was well worth it.  Formula Powell provided a much needed refrigeration truck.  Eh Cho Dene provided a camp trailer for storage, and they had a water truck on hand in the event of an emergency.”
Norby-Gairdner says this was just a start.  They are working on getting a permanent land base for an annual Lands Culture Camp, and they would also like to see more people camping outside overnight.  In addition to this activity, the department has held river paddles, and they are planning to run a survival camp during spring break 2014.

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