ELI Ice Fishing Camp
Posted on March 24th, 2016
Have you ever wondered what ice-fishing is like but never had the chance to try it? From February 22-26th, Father R. Perin School in partnership with Sekweha (a youth centre in Janiver), parents and community members organized the Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI) Ice Fishing Camp. The camp, located on Winefred Lake, set the stage for students and staff to learn the traditional ways of ice fishing. The camp, which includes cabins along the lake, is located on Chipewyan Prairie First Nation.
Morris Lemaigre, ELI Fish Camp Coordinator along with community members, demonstrated the under-ice fishing deployment method. This tradition involves cutting holes with an ice chipper and threading a line from one hole to another and eventually the net itself. Sticks were used to prop the net lines to prevent them from freezing to the side of the holes. Students then assisted with pulling the net out of the water and retrieving pickerel, white fish and northern pike.
“For a lot of these kids, this is their first time going out ice fishing so they are really interested,” said Lemaigre. In his interactions with students, he believes they want to learn on the land more often than what’s currently offered.
After ice fishing, a community elder educated students on how to properly prepare a fish for cooking over a fire and how to fillet it. These experiences are then weaved into classroom instruction.
“That’s the main idea of going to fish camp is to make links between curriculum being taught in the classroom and their experience at fish camp so that’s its more meaningful to them [student],” said Rosalind Best, Father R. Perin School Teacher. “I know a lot of teachers are doing lessons on measurements. They take data from all the measurements of the fish and come up with the mean, median and mode. For social studies, comparing past and present uses for the land based on the fish camp experience and for literacy, elementary students create word walls to describe what they saw.”
In addition to ice fishing, students have participated in medicine walks and a duck plucking camp this year. For one week, classes went out with an Elder to collect medicines and learn how to use them. During duck plucking camp, community members educated students about preparing duck for cooking purposes. Best says she believes weaving land-based learning into the curriculum will help increase community engagement.
“We want parents and community members to come to the school so students can view their own community members,” said Best. “It’s important for students to interact with people who are just like them and who they can grow up to be. It empowers them as First Nations people. It strengthens what they think they can do in their future.”