#ActivatingWellness

Standing Bear Stories

We Came in as Outsiders and Left as Friends

Author: Wendy-Ann Clarke

Sitting around a campfire in Fort Albany, a local woman preparing a goose stew told fabled stories of legends from their First Nation community. The Standing Bear youth that surrounded her hung on her every word.

Situated deep in northern Ontario, Fort Albany was new and unchartered territory for the program in early July. Through the Camp, youth from the community engaged in various sport and recreation activities, leadership programming, and local Indigenous teachings that crossed demographic lines, nurtured local youth and helped to bring residents together.

While the team may have entered the community as outsiders, they left as friends.

“You could see the difference in the kids and the sense of comfort and humour that came out from them throughout the week,” said Standing Bear Youth Leadership Coordinator Hillary McGregor. “It was great to see that our program resonated to that level.”

Watermelon also became a unique way to reach out to youth in the area. Freshly cut slices of the fruit were a real treat in the community where just one watermelon can run up to $50.

“We brought in three over the course of the week and it was really important for participation at that camp,” said McGregor. “Seeing the impact of bringing a watermelon to the Standing Bear community feast was definitely eye-opening, especially going into our other Northern Camp in Fort Hope later this summer. The understanding that we’re gaining through these Camps will be beneficial for the growth of the program for years to come.”

 

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Cooking up Something Good for the Soul

Author: Wendy-Ann Clarke 

Youth at the Standing Bear Leadership Camp in Fort Albany had no problem getting their hands dirty cooking up a delicious batch of fry bread with Standing Bear staff Peshaunquet Shognosh.

For Shognosh who is Anishinaabe First Nation from Walpole Island, the task runs deeper than mixing ingredients. He was passing down a recipe that has been passed down in his family for generations.

“It comes from The Trail of Tears which was a mass eviction of Indigenous people from the east coast of the United States in the 1800’s,” says Shognosh. “They were given only the worst ingredients to make the food on the journey.

“With ingenuity, the women took what they were given and made something tasty to feed their families. It was a dark moment in our history but out of it has come something special.”

The bread is made with flour, salt, baking powder and one other special ingredient which Shognosh revealed to the youth in his teaching.

“There’s this old adage that the secret ingredient is love and I think that it really is,” says Shognosh.

“I’ve learned that feelings and emotions can translate into what you’re doing so if you’re feeling love it goes directly into the food.”