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Learn about your surroundings out on the land, says Elder

Mike Beaver. Photo courtesy of "Wabasca Community Stewardship, Caring for our land, our people, our communities"

Suggest going out to explore, says Mike Beaver, "to discover something…. They are just waiting for those words.”

Mike Beaver is an instructor for trapping courses with Alberta Trappers Association, and he enjoys taking young people out on the land.

“You know, they have so much energy,” Beaver told Dustin McGladrey of CFWE-FM during a taping of Conversational Cree.

Beaver had been asked how we keep youth interested in trapping, especially young people from the city. He said it’s up to parents and older people to be prepared to suggest a walk through the bush to create enthusiasm for time spent on the land and for young people to see what the land has to offer.

Suggest going out to explore, he told McGladrey, “to discover something…. They are just waiting for those words.”

“For the young people that are not active in the bush or on the land, I think a lot of the blame has to be on us older people,” Beaver said.

“I teach them survival. How to survive in the Boreal Forest. And they are so enthused about it,” he said.

He teaches them what he’s learned from his dad and others. He said he has learned a lot of things about his surroundings in the Boreal Forest, liking knowing the different trees as he’s walking by and what they could be used for.

Learning about the landscape is important, said Jim Cardinal, also in the studio with McGladrey. Looking at a tree can help determine which direction is which—north, south, east and west. Knowing the land gives us knowledge about what it can provide, like which animals reside there.

Bigstone Cree Nation, Beaver’s home community, has a cultural school offering such lessons as preparing traditional foods from wildlife. Beaver has brought together Elders there to talk about traditional medicines and passing that on to interested young people.

“The kids from the city, it would be nice if they could come out once and a while and get grounded.”

Beaver said if you are in the city too much, that’s all you know…. “Bring them out. Everybody had a home, at one time out there (on the land).”

Beaver said people can call him if they are interested. Call Bigstone First Nation to contact him.

Beaver said there is little money in trapping anymore, but there is valuable knowledge that it can be gained from being out on the land.

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