Snap, Crackle, Pop! Wild Rice Harvesting at Cultural Camp at Whitefish Bay

Elders and youth come together for a three-day cultural knowledge sharing camp at Naotkamegwanning Roundhouse

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Kelly Kavanaugh watches a child stir wild rice (Photo Credit: Jazlyn Copenace)

By: Carter Nash, West Ranville, Jaryn Joseph, Arianna Jack

The sound of drumming, the smell of smoke, the scraping of rock, and the popping of wild rice were sights and sounds of pride at the Naotkamegwanning roundhouse.

Dylan Jennings was one of many cultural trainers parching or harvesting  wild rice at the first annual Shawendaasowin Cultural Camp held on October 23-25, 2018.

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Dylan Jennings makes a traditional handheld drum (Photo Credit: Virginia Loon)

Jennings, or Maskode Bizhikiins, (Little Buffalo) of  Bad River Band of Lake Superior says he started harvesting as a young person.  “I was probably 10 or 11 when I went out harvesting with my cousin,” he explained.  His grandma, aunties and uncles taught him how to harvest manoomin.

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Youth stirring wild rice (Photo Credit: Virginia Loon)

As part of his identity as Anishinaabe, he said, “Harvesting connects everything in creation.”   He remembers important virtues such as patience, respect and love.

“Harvesting wild rice is a lot of work, but necessary,” said Jennings.  “It makes us hard and honest workers when we remember how to do things the old way. It also helps to keep us grounded and humble.”

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Karli Zschogner, journalism trainer stirring wild rice (Photo Credit: Jazlyn Copenance)

Jennings said he enjoyed the dialogue between the young people and elders. “It was invaluable to hear the experiences of the elders and the way they used to harvest and live.”

He said he enjoyed being in the community and sharing his knowledge. He was happy that Shawendaasowin invited him.  “The community is truly blessed with so many great teachers, young people and knowledgeable elders,” said Jennings.

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Elder Evelyn Tom scraping deer hide (Photo Credit: Virginia Loon)

The cultural camp involved people from in and out of the community, including students from Kenora’s Beaver Brae Secondary School.

Other cultural workshop activities included community art, tikinagan baby carrier making, deer harvesting and hide scraping, ribbon skirt making and soapstone carving. Daily feasts followed.  A traditional powwow closed the event.

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Young participants take part in soapstone carving (Photo Credit: Brayden Nash)

Carmen Bird, or Giizhibabenacesiik of the Sturgeon Clan, is Director of Services for Shawendaasowin Child and Family Services. “We don’t usually see cultural activity event opportunities in our community, so this is one of the things we were able to bring forward because of funding that we have received,” she said.

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The smiles of generations with Carmen Bird (right) (Photo Credit: Ocean Sky Tom)

The idea for this cultural camp came from the Jordan’s Principle Initiative. Jordan River Anderson was a young Cree boy from Norway House, Manitoba who didn’t get the service that he required and he had to be away from home to receive medical care.  He had to stay in a hospital, and while there, he passed away while the provincial and federal governments argued over who should take responsibility for his costs and didn’t speed up any process for him to be at home where he should have been.

Scraping deer hide (Photo Credit: Jazlyn Copenance)
Scraping deer hide (Photo Credit: Jazlyn Copenance)

Funding from Jordan’s Principle is to provide students, youth and children access to required services at home. The cultural camp fell into this category.

Bird believes it is important to retain cultural teachings and traditions from elders within the community.  “We can come together once in a while with educators, our skilled people, the ones who have talents, our organizations and our elders.”

She said Shawendaasowin plans to host future cultural camps.

Roland White
Cultural Camp Pow Wow (Photo Credit: Roland White)
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