Unreserved

A look inside Nimkii Aazhibikong, an Anishinaabe culture camp

Started by artists Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch in June 2017, the land-based camp is meant to give youth and elders a chance to connect using their language and traditional Anishinaabe activities, like harvesting and creating art.
It may look snowed in, but activities are still happening at the Nimkii Aazhibikong language and culture camp just north of Elliot Lake, Ont. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

A two-and-a-half-hour drive from Sudbury in the middle of the woods sits Nimkii Aazhibikong, an Anishinaabe language and culture camp.

Started by artists Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch in June 2017, the land-based camp is meant to give youth and elders a chance to connect using their language and traditional Anishinaabe activities, like harvesting and creating art.

Unreserved guest host Waubgeshig Rice spent a day at the culture camp, and sat in on a language chat between two elders and a language learner.

Quinn Meawasige (left), a language learner from Serpent River First Nation, learns Anishinaabemowin from Linda Toulouse (centre) and Mary Elizabeth Wemigwans (right). (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

"It's really important that people have an opportunity to learn language … [we want] a place where language and culture can be practised all the time — not just one conference here, one event there," Quinn Meawasige said. 

Meawasige says as he started to learn more Anishinaabemowin, his views on the world, his relatives and those who aren't here yet changed. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

"I really appreciate them speaking the language. I think it's important," Mary Elizabeth Wemigwans said.

Mary Elizabeth Wemigwans, who also goes by Maanii, says language lost is a result of parents wanting their kids to succeed the only way they knew how: by learning English. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

"We want to get all these kids back to know their spirit, to gain their spirit back," Linda Toulouse said.

But the next generation is eager to learn Anishinaabemowin, Linda Toulouse says, to gain their spirit back. The camp, with lists of words all over the place, hopes to foster that. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

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