2017 Wa Ni Ska Tan Youth Camp

From August 14th-18th youth from six communities joined together in Nelson House for the 2nd Annual Wa Ni Ska Tan Youth Camp. We began with a long day of arrivals and introductions. The first evening was spent setting up camp, enjoying a delicious dinner of stew, and hanging out on the beach with a bonfire waiting for the final arrivals. We arose early the next morning for a hike that lead up to a viewpoint overlooking Nelson House and two of the three rivers that meet near Nelson House. The long trek through the bushes and up rocky terrain became rewarding when we arrived at the top. A stunning view of Nelson House presented itself in the distance. We spent time picking medicine, watching Michael’s drone tour the area, and catching our breath before heading back down to the waiting boats.  One of the key activities of the youth camp was teaching the youth how to smoke fish. In the afternoon we went out to find live tamarack and spruce trees in preparation for the smokehouse we would build. Youth learned how to identify spruce and chopped them down, carrying them together through the bush back to our boats. The youth worked hard removing the bark off the trees and together built the smokehouse, awaiting the arrival of the fish. That evening, the instruments came out, and we were entertained with songs, and later, storytelling around the fire.  


“I learned that we can help each other if we work together” 

-youth participant

The next day youth braved the morning rain, going out with community guides to pull out the fishing nets from three locations. They caught and identified whitefish, pickerel, and jackfish. They also stopped at the graveyard along the way home, learning some of the community history. They then learned how to properly filet and prepare the fish. After a ceremony to commemorate the new smokehouse, the youth placed the fish in the smokehouse, and patiently waited. The weather cleared up and we found a place to swim and cool off after a long and tough day.Later that evening the youth played a role playing game that allowed them to learn about the impacts of hydro development. Let’s Build A Dam, created by summer students Emily Unger and Ema Coleman, allowed the youth to better understand crown corporations and negotiations, and the frustrations faced by many communities throughout these processes. Hearing stories from different hydro affected communities in the Green Green Waters documentary gave youth additional insight into these processes. Our evening was full of stories yet again, and we caught a glimpse of the northern lights before we put our heads down to rest.

” I learned the effects of hydro and was able to see the damage first hand”

-Youth participant


Youth finished the camp with a boat ride out to the footprints of Nelson House. Here they learned the history of the footprints and the land that the footprints originally resided on before being moved by Manitoba Hydro. Finally, on our last night,we had a Closing Ceremony, gathering together for song and prayer before we all went our separate ways. The 2017 youth camp in Nelson House was a success. Youth came together and formed friendships with one another, and learned about the impacts of hydro development through land based activities and traditional teachings. The stories shared and relationships built would not have been possible without the youth, elders and staff who participated.

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