Families and their children journeyed out on the snowy day to learn Anishinaabemowin with hands-on cultural activities at Old Fort William Historical Park in Thunder Bay, Ont.
The Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre is offering one-day language camps for different age groups and participants this week. The camp offered the opportunity to participate in moose hide tanning, snowshoeing, crafting, and language classes.
“I think that it’s important that we have these camps so we can reclaim a part of our identity as Anishinaabe people,” said Genevieve Desmoulin, the Indigenous languages revitalization coordinator for the Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre.
“It takes over 6,000 hours of consistent language speaking and conversation and learning to actually absorb that so it’s really important that we have every opportunity to access our language.”
The camp invited families with a focus on newborns to 6 year-olds who registered ahead of time to join them for free language activities with lunch.
Upon arrival, the families were ushered to the fire for opening ceremonies before they gathered in a building for introductory Anishinaabemowin lessons. Individuals participated in the lesson with the help of visual boards allowing for them to see and hear the language being spoken.
For lunch, they had bannock with chicken and wild rice soup. The group was split up after lunch to learn about moose hide tanning and go on a small snowshoeing excursion around the park.
Families embraced the provided activities where language was present and encouraged.
“I really hope they stay in touch with their culture, learn more about their culture and different things that go with that, whether it be ceremonial or language…and things like this reinforce that for them ” said Kaylyn Dunning, the mother of two children participating in the one day Anishinaabemowin language camp.
The families and their children were encouraged throughout the duration of the camp to participate in activities and to speak the language. The camp finished at 2 p.m. when they went back to the Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre.
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