Four Rivers Matawa Environmental Services Group’s Gord Parker shows a group of Long Lake #58 high school students how to identify the age, genetics, gender and anatomical features of fish during the community’s Expedition Through Tradition Camp, held July 10-14, at the new Pow Wow grounds.

By Rick Garrick

LONG LAKE #58—Traditional teachings and scientific knowledge were featured at Long Lake #58’s Expedition Through Tradition Camp, held July 10-14, at the community’s new Pow Wow grounds.

“We’re having a good time — we learned all about the fish,” says Long Lake #58 Elder Corine Nabigon. “We had a cleansing and a presentation. We talked mainly about having confidence in yourself. And we are going to have a sweat lodge for whoever wants to attend tonight.”

Anisa O’Nabigon, Long Lake #58’s mine liaison, says about 40 Long Lake #58 high school students participated in the camp, which was held to build capacity among the students and to share information about social effects and economic development that may come with mining development in the region.

“But we also want to keep the cultural side with it, Western knowledge with our traditional knowledge,” O’Nabigon says. “It’s really good to acknowledge our Elders’ teachings. And our science crew can actually get right down into the little bits and pieces and atoms.”

O’Nabigon says the youth learned how to tell the age of a fish by looking at their ‘ears’.

“On Tuesday, we had a canoeing tandem training course, so we had Paddle Canada come here to teach them their novice training,” says O’Nabigon. “We’re going to have the fish fry on the burners.”

About six Elders and two Four Rivers Matawa Environmental Services Group staff helped out with the camp.

“It’s been a wonderful outing,” says Gord Parker, environmental projects and training officer with Four Rivers. “The youth are having a great time — they’re learning science, they’re learning about fish, wildlife, nature. They’re learning culture; it’s a wonderful event.”

Parker also showed the students how Four Rivers staff obtain data from the fish’s body.

“I was teaching the youth what kind of scientific data we collect, how we collect it and how we will work with a dispatched fish to identify age, genetics, gender and anatomical features,” Parker says. “[I] explained as much as I can about the fish, where it lives, how it lives, ecology, biology. So I’m just giving these kids as much [knowledge] as I can give them.”

Denzil Patabon, a Long Lake #58 high school student, enjoyed learning more about fish biology and other information provided at the camp so he can pass it on to other youth.

“I liked going in the water to get bugs with those waist waders,” Patabon says. “We found a lot of weird ones.”

Kara Abraham, a Long Lake #58 high school student, enjoyed the canoeing activities during the camp.

“At first it was very scary,” Abraham says. “We all ended up flipping our canoes, but it was really fun at the end of the day.”

Precious Abraham, a Long Lake #58 high school student, enjoyed the cultural aspects of the camp.

“We were taught about the land and where our medicines come from,” Precious says.

Demi Abraham, a Long Lake #58 high school student, enjoyed meeting with her relatives who live in Long Lake #58 during the camp.

“I’m from Thunder Bay, so it was kind of nice getting to know more of my cousins I haven’t talked to,” Demi says. “And I really liked the canoeing.”

Tyson Ossibenis, a Long Lake #58 high school student, says it was “awesome” being out on the land with the other youth.

The new Pow Wow grounds are located a short distance to the west of Long Lake #58.