Students attend Fall Tourism Camp in Fort Simpson

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Towards the end of October, the students of Liidlii Kue Regional High School had the chance to experience guided camping at the hands of two seasoned tourism operators in the NWT.

Mary Jane and Gilbert Cazon of K’iyeli Tourism Services spoke to the junior students about their tourism business for the Fall Tourism Camp.

After their overview, the Cazons showed the students how to set up a canvas tent, which the group easily erected, and even set up the stove. Mary Jane and Gilbert – both masters of fire feeding ceremonies – demonstrated the fire feeding ceremony and stressed the importance of following the sun’s direction when putting tobacco into the fire.

After the ceremony, the students learned how to lay spruce boughs around the fire pit. They learned why the Dene feed the fire; that it’s important to give thanks to the land and to the people that did this before you and those who are still doing it to this day.

 

Mary Jane and students sitting on spruce boughs round the fire

 

The next day hosted the senior students who learned much of the same with the addition of a presentation on the tourism industry from an Industry, Tourism and Investment representative at school.

 

Manager, Tourism and Parks Stephanie Hardisty talking to senior students about the tourism industry

 

On the third day of the Fall Tourism Camp, the junior students focused on fish. Allan Bonnetrouge and William Alger of the Edéhzhíe Dehcho Guardians showed the students how to harvest a fish. William demonstrated how to fillet a fish for cooking, taking great care to get all the meat and not waste any parts. The fire crackled intensely while the cast iron pan was placed over the fire with a splash of olive oil.

There’s more than one way to prepare a fish, though. Allan taught the students how to cut a fish to hang it to become dry fish. With that information under their belts, the Guardians took out fish for the students to harvest their very own fish and apply what they learned. Luckily, the students weren’t shy of fish guts and jumped right in. Once the fish was filleted, William tossed it on the pan and cooked the fish to perfection.

The next day was the senior students’ turn to learn. Tables were set in rows, each with a fish on top. Students were really engaged and some already knew how to fillet and harvest a fish. They cooked up the prepared fish and whatever was left was bagged up for them to take home and show their parents what they had learned.

Overall, the experience was spectacular for everyone involved. Students loved being out on the land and once they were taught how to prepare a fish, they weren’t afraid to get in and get messy. Teachers can come in many forms, and fortunately, the students had the opportunity to learn from some of the best traditional instructors in the NWT. The Fall Tourism Camp happens every year, and students from all backgrounds get the chance to participate and learn some invaluable skills.