August 5th marked the end of the first ever Wa Ni Ska Tan Hydro Alliance Youth Camp, a five-day event in Norway House Cree Nation. We had 30 participants from over eight communities across Manitoba. During the camp youth engaged with elders, asked questions about their communities and learned about traditions and their land. The camp also served as an opportunity to discuss the impacts of hydro development on culture, families, and the environment. Each day there were opportunities to reconnect with ancestral practices through sweat lodge ceremonies, medicine gathering, beading workshops, and elders’ teachings.
“I understand now what Hydro has done” – youth camp participant
One of the most notable events during the camp was the boat ride out to 2-mile channel and Warren’s Landing, which allowed all the camp participants to witness the devastating erosion caused by Hydro. Each year 2-mile channel widens by 10 meters, resulting in polluted waterways and increased hazards for the fishing industry. Witnessing this provided context when the documentary Green, Green Water was screened later that evening.
Carol Kobliski from Nelson House, who was featured in the film, provided commentary during the film. Afterwards we held a two-hour, in-depth sharing circle to discuss what could be done moving forward.
During the camp participants were also provided cameras, as part of a photovoice project, to capture their own unique perspectives on what was being learned over the five days. We were able to see what was important to them and what the youth camp can focus on in future years.
This first Hydro Alliance Youth Camp will serve as an excellent model for the years to come. There were friendships formed during this camp that will last a lifetime. The conversations that we had with one another—short and long—helped our first camp develop into something that really affected and inspired us all.
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