Thunder Bay·Photos

How an Anishinaabemowin camp immerses families in language and culture

The Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre created a one day Anishinaabemowin language camp for various age groups and participants throughout the week. The language is mixed in with cultural activities from moose hide tanning to snowshoeing.

The language camp immerses people in cultural activities while learning Anishinaabemowin

Visit an Anishinaabemowin language and culture camp in Thunder Bay

4 months ago
Duration 3:13
The Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre is holding Anishinaabemowin language camps. The language is mixed in with cultural activities from moose hide tanning to snowshoeing.

Families and their children journeyed out on the snowy day to learn Anishinaabemowin with hands-on cultural activities at Old Fort William Historical Park in Thunder Bay, Ont. 

The Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre is offering one-day language camps for different age groups and participants this week. The camp offered the opportunity to participate in moose hide tanning, snowshoeing, crafting, and language classes. 

"I think that it's important that we have these camps so we can reclaim a part of our identity as Anishinaabe people," said Genevieve Desmoulin, the Indigenous languages revitalization coordinator for the Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre. 

"It takes over 6,000 hours of consistent language speaking and conversation and learning to actually absorb that so it's really important that we have every opportunity to access our language." 

Two women helping two children put on snowshoes.
The Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre workers helped assist children participating at the Anishinaabemowin language camp. (Sara Kae/CBC)

The camp invited families with a focus on newborns to 6 year-olds who registered ahead of time to join them for free language activities with lunch. 

Upon arrival, the families were ushered to the fire for opening ceremonies before they gathered in a building for introductory Anishinaabemowin lessons. Individuals participated in the lesson with the help of visual boards allowing for them to see and hear the language being spoken. 

For lunch, they had bannock with chicken and wild rice soup. The group was split up after lunch to learn about moose hide tanning and go on a small snowshoeing excursion around the park.

A man delivers an Anishinaabemowin language lesson.
Language and culture are intertwined at the camp. (Sara Kae/CBC)

Families embraced the provided activities where language was present and encouraged. 

"I really hope they stay in touch with their culture, learn more about their culture and different things that go with that, whether it be ceremonial or language…and things like this reinforce that for them  " said Kaylyn Dunning, the mother of two children participating in the one day Anishinaabemowin language camp. 

The families and their children were encouraged throughout the duration of the camp to participate in activities and to speak the language. The camp finished at 2 p.m. when they went back to the Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre.


Sara Kae


Sara Kae is an Ojibway/Cree reporter of Lake Helen First Nation based in Thunder Bay, Ont. She covers stories that highlight Indigenous voices with a special focus on arts and culture.