By Kianna Durston
On July 29th, our team packed up and made our way to Sagkeeng First Nation for our third camp program this summer. For this camp, we were able to stay in yurts and cabins with a beautiful view of the river which was a highlight for us all.
On the first day, we all gathered together to get to know each other before cooling off in the river and heading out to take water samples. Once we had gathered all of our water samples, we formed a circle to talk about the physical and chemical properties of water and how they interact with us and our environment. After our group discussion, we started testing for the microbiology, specifically E. coli coliforms that take 18 hours to incubate. After finishing up with all of the tests for the day we went for a swim, took out the kayaks for a paddle and ran around looking for frogs and garter snakes near the water. We ended the evening with dinner, games and s’mores!
On the second day, we were greeted by Norman, a local Elder who has spent his whole life in Sagkeeng. Norman came to our camp with a bucket of fish he had caught the night before and had all of the kids take a fish and learn how to clean, gut and fillet them. Once we had all filleted a fish, we cleaned up and Alan Courchene took us on a hike to Coca Cola falls and a local cliff jumping spot. The cliff jumping spot had the bluest water I have ever seen (you could see straight down to the bottom!). After our hike, we headed back to our camp where we split into two groups to test the water samples for its chemical properties (including the pH, turbidity, arsenic, lead, nitrates & nitrites) while the other group began the art activity of ice dyeing T-shirts. We ended our day with games, swimming and a bonfire.
The next morning, we all got in kayaks and paddled to the nearby rapids. Norman came along with us and taught us about the medicines along the river, their use, and how to harvest them. We spent most of our day swimming and going down the rapids before heading back to camp. When we arrived back at the camp, the rest of kids finished up their ice dyeing from the day before which turned out really great! Before dinner, we all gathered together in a sharing circle to share and discuss the outcomes of water sampling we had done that week. We closed up our evening with hot dogs, more s’mores, and a wild game of Pictionary!
On the final morning in Sagkeeng we all had breakfast together before heading our separate ways! This camp was a big highlight for me this summer and I’m so grateful for all of the kids and community members that helped make it such a success!