Listuguj students harvest their first moose through outdoor program
'You can't put that in a textbook,' says treaty education coordinator Jacob Gale.
A group of students at the Alaqsite'w Gitpu School will carry the experience of moose hunting for the rest of their lives.
"You can't put that in a textbook," said Jacob Gale, the treaty education coordinator at Listuguj Education, Training and Employment.
"They'll never forget that experience."
The school, which is in the Mi'kmaw community of Listuguj on the Quebec-New Brunswick border, selected eight students between Grades 5 and 8 to go moose hunting in Kedgwick, N.B., late last month.
It was the first time hunting for many of them.
"I just wanted to connect to the land and be with my culture," said Karter Isaac.
He said the group spotted the moose within the first half hour.
"Travis [one of the instructors] looked if it was actually a moose in the binoculars and then he scoped in," said Isaac.
"He missed his first shot and he said it was a warning shot. And then he hit the moose on a second shot in the hump on the back."
For Gale, it was important to teach and demonstrate Mi'kmaw treaty rights to hunt and fish.
"We're reclaiming that," he said.
"Sharing those teachings with our students and having them gain that sense of pride for being outside, learning about our culture, learning about their identity … all those things make a big difference."
This week, the students helped butcher the moose to cut steaks, roasts and hamburger. Next week, they will learn how to make sausage and jerky that will be shared with the community.
Student Serena Barnaby said it wasn't her first time hunting, but it was the first time she got to experience butchering the animal.
"I love hunting and I've been doing it for a long time," she said.
"[It's] really cool and fun to learn.… We're always outside and get to learn new things."
The students also started tanning the hide, and plan to use it to make a drum. They will also use the bones for a traditional Mi'kmaw game called Waltes.
"We're trying to learn all about the different usages that are around the process of moose hunting," said Jonathan Barnaby, the outdoor education facilitator at the school.
"We're teaching really, culturally rich, community-based education, and people from our community are big moose hunters."
The school launched an outdoor education program two years ago. Students between Grades 5 and 8 spend two hours a week learning about stewardship and seasonal on-the-land activities like harvesting medicines, beekeeping and bow-making.
Barnaby said they decided to dedicate Friday afternoons to big lessons, and moose harvesting was the first one.
Each small step in the process — from hunting to using each part of the animal — is a learning opportunity, he said, and provides an avenue for students to ask questions and get hands-on experience that don't normally happen in a classroom setting.
"Our whole community is our classroom," said Barnaby.
"We're trying to get these kids to fall in love with those small processes and just just be in love with stuff that's happening in our community."