Wild Foods Snack Program - Fort Providence

Author // Meagan Ann


This past spring, I spent two months in Fort Providence working on the Wild Foods Snack Program at Deh Gah School. During my time in the community, I spent six weeks with staff, students and community members working on the land at their spring camp. The camp is located a short 10 minute drive from the community and situated right on the Mackenzie River. Every day at camp we prepared traditional foods for lunch and worked on preserving food to offer as snacks in the winter months.

Dried fish is a favourite snack among everyone, so it was never hard to find help preparing it. Every morning while camp was being set up and the elders were leading the morning ceremony, the camp managers would take a few of the kids to canoe out to empty the fish nets. Daily, we had at least a half dozen fish; Whitefish, Jackfish, Suckerfish and if we were lucky- Pickerel. Pretty well the whole morning would be dedicated to cleaning the fish and preparing it to be smoked over the fire for at least a day.

The students loved to be involved in making dried fish. The little ones would have to stand on chairs so they could reach the work table were they could help scale the fish. Having the kindergarten kid’s help might have taken extra time, but seeing them involved in traditional food procurement methods was worth it! The older kids watched their elders cut the fish, and then anyone who wanted the opportunity would get to prepare their own.

Having the experience to learn with the students was amazing and I really got to understand and appreciate the work that went into traditional food procurement methods. The youth were given an opportunity to learn about their culture and will be rewarded with delicious snacks from the land for months to come. Some days, we’d have upwards of 30 fish smoking over the fire; all of which were later vacuum sealed and frozen. It was rewarding to watch the youth become more and more confident in preparing dried fish and really finding an appreciation for spending time on the land. There were days when we had to ask the youth to remember to give their peers a turn helping out!!altaltalt

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