Spotlight: Calling all bull moose!
Students at Mihtatakaw Sipiy School in Driftpile First Nation had a unique opportunity to experience the outdoors Sept. 26-30.
Under the guidance of Ross Giroux Sr., a trapper and hunter, they camped in a field near the Lesser Slave Lake North Country Community Association grounds in Driftpile Valley, along the Driftpile River.
“We want them to experience how our ancestors lived,” says Giroux. “It ties in with their connection to Mother Nature. When the camp is over, they can’t wait for the next one.”
Fifteen students in Grades 6-9 participated. The things Giroux taught them included archery skills, how to make and use moose callers, how to field dress a moose and how to gather the materials for a smudging ceremony. They also got to make hunting blinds using natural vegetation.
After demonstrating their new skills, the students had the opportunity to hunt for moose.
None of them had killed a moose by Sept. 29, but some had called a bull moose in.
If a student managed to kill a moose, they would have been allowed to provide it for the camp or their family. They have traditional hunting rights for the purpose.
It was Talon Bellerose’s first time at the camp and he enjoyed learning about moose calling. In the evening of Sept. 26, he called a moose in. He did not see it, but found the tracks the next morning, which was pretty exciting.
Bellerose hunted for moose with a relative in 2010, but didn’t manage to get one. However, he really enjoys the sport.
“It’s good to be outdoors and hunting,” he says.
He’s steadily improving his archery skills and wants to be a bow hunter.
It was Tamarrah Gir- oux’s second time at the camp. In her first year, she went on many hunts and didn’t see any moose, but lots of deer.
She enjoyed learning how to make and use the moose callers. She also liked gathering the materials for the smudging ceremonies.
Hunting is a passion she shares with her dad.
“I love hunting and camping with my dad,” she says.
They have hunted in the Swan Hills area.
What the students get out of the camp is a very special bonding experience, says Lori Giroux, the Grade 7/8/9 teacher and Ross Giroux’s wife.
“The whole week, they become so close,” she says. “They get to know each other a lot better. They have a very positive attitude when they return to class.”
The camp gives the youth an alternative to drug and alcohol abuse, she adds.
“It’s made a difference with some of the kids.”
She handled a lot of the cooking and shopping duties for the camp.
It’s the 12th year for the camp which had elders involved as well.
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