Deer Lake First Nation Youth Canoe
by observing and doing Initiative)
On Friday August 8 2008, nine Deer Lake youth
along with two project team leaders/guides began a very challenging six day expedition
through the traditional territories of the Deer Lake First Nation to experience
the traditional lifestyle of life on the lands, to practice and pass on
knowledge of the land and learn safety measures of travel on the waterways,
portages and trails in the wilderness.
This trip was made possible by the partnership
Okimakanak Wilderness Challenge together with Deer Lake Health Services mandate of promoting
healthy lifestyle choices for the youth, encouraging a traditional diet of wild
game foods as well as learning how to prepare these foods.
aspects to the trip were to show the youth the importance of showing a presence
on the lands and utilizing the lands and waterways as the people had done
before them, and that we could continue this custom of strengthening ties to
the land and its resources for the communities use by simply being out on the
Homelands of the Deer Lake First Nation people.
The group was made up of:
Meekis, Michelle Meekis, Taylor Meekis, Megan Meekis, Hunter Meekis,
Landon Sawanas, Jenna Rae, Myron Quill, Jonathon Meekis and the Project leaders
Kakegamic and Donald Meekis
first day was introductions to gear, paddles and the canoe. The gear being
first on the list because planning begins with an attempt to foresee and
accommodate your needs while in the wilderness to be able to take good care of
your needs in any situation or weather, and to be able to handle your pack
yourself and be confident knowing where whatever you might need is.
The group got along well with all the work
that needed to be done from portaging, to getting firewood, water for
tea/coffee, washing pans pots, and preparing the days meals, which were just some of the daily chores the
group had to complete besides swimming and paddling all day.
I heard, hey paddling is not rocket science!, I know how to paddle!!, so from
this expression of total dominance, the group paddled daily starting what had
eventually turned from a planned four day canoe trip into six days of paddling
all over the lakes, sideways, forward, backwards and onward until, eventually
after 3-4 days paddling, the group managed to stay in an orderly single file,
with the canoe moving as it should, the paddlers had briefly mastered the basic
rocket sciences of paddling in a canoe for some photo ops.
The group experienced all kinds of
emotions during the course of this trip everything from disappointment that the
canoe trip took two extra days, amazement at the beauty and power of nature,
scared of the bears snoring really close to their tents, embarrassed to find
out that the bear snoring was Hunter, overwhelmed at portages with so much
stuff to carry and then finally being very proud to have completed such a
vigorous challenge. Some paddlers are looking forward to next time and others
jokingly say this is too hard I never want to go paddling again.
chiefs Tribal Council
Meekis Special Projects Coordinator
1 800 387