Canoe Brigade

Since the re-establishment of the Canoe Brigade Program in the year 1990, there have been 310 young men and 87 young women from our community whom have participated in this Canoe Expedition; the Canoe Brigade has become the one of the most popular activities for the Youth during the summer.

Objectives
  • Canoe & Water Safety Where and how to paddle swift currents How to handle canoe (portage, storing, etc…) Learn when to travel (identify types of weather condition)
  • Cree Tradition and Customs Taking care of the land (maintaining of every campsite)
  • Bush Survival Skills Cree medicine How to handle emergency situations which wood to use for cooking and setting up a teepee
  • Hunting, Fishing and Harvesting Techniques Preparing fish nets and other related tasks learning of the best area to set up nets learning the proper way of setting up campsite including pitching tents
  • Identification of wildlife, fauna and habitants: Learn about different kinds of fish and which ones are safe to eat. Cooking, cleaning and smoking fish and also smoking geese.
  • Cree History Learn and see what historical facts and events that occurred along the way.
Since its inception the Expedition has usually paddled the Rupert River but in 2011 was the first time we paddled the Eastmain River. The journey took 27 days to complete, with departure from Waskaganish on July 8th and arrival on August 4th. Over 20 applications were received for participation. With a total of 10 canoes in good condition, 19 Youth were selected. Among the participants, there were 7 young women (1 was selected as a female assistant guide) and 12 young men (2 of them were selected as a male assistant guides). One Head Guide and a Woman Guide, as well as a transport coordinator were also hired.

The brigade camped at Luke Diamond’s campsite where they learned how to set up nets for the young men, and for the young women to clean and smoke the fish. They have caught over 100 fish and killed over 50 geese.

The safe arrival of the group was celebrated and concluded with catering snacks, cookies, fruit with some hot coffee and tea for the participants, family members, elders and also for the community. Family were there to reunite with their children and members of the community were there to greet them on the shores of the Rupert River and prayer was said in thanking our Creator for their safe journey. Supper and awards were done at the Kanio Kashee Lodge. We concluded the night with a story from the Guide on how they were doing and at the end the closing prayer. Everybody was so happy to see the participants arrive safely back home again.

Cheryl Weistche
Coordinator of Youth Programs