Students get first-hand trapping experience
(Reprinted from above link)
Out on the trap line: Students get first-hand trapping experience
There was excitement to spare among the students of Pope John Paul II School and St. Thomas Aquinas High School as they ventured into the bush of Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation on Thursday, Jan. 30 for their last visit to the trap line.
Grade 6, 7 and 8 students from the two schools have spent the last few weeks learning about the traditional skill of trapping for fur and meat, guided by life-time trapper Jason Kelly from Wauzhushk Onigum.
“This is my first time trapping,” said Shawana Rae, a Grade 7 student from St. Thomas Aquinas. “It’s a really good experience because my dad wanted me to learn how to trap because he didn’t know how to.”
The students first came out to the forest to check out the traps other trappers laid, before coming back to set their own snares and conibear traps, designed to catch rabbits, martens and fishers.
Kelly said they’ve caught and kept four rabbits total (he said a few other rabbits caught in their snares were eaten by other animals out in the forest).
Chase Latimer points out the spot where he’d laid a snare a few weeks ago and successfully caught a rabbit.
Every time before the students venture out onto their trapline, Jason Kelly hands out tobacco to students as their offering to the land.
“They gain a grasp of getting out on the land, how tough it can be, how cold it can be,” Kelly said, adding that experience is an opportunity for them to learn how to respect the land.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” Rae said. “When I grow up, I want to become a conservation officer … cause I like being outside and on the land.”
Ryan Hatfield, a Grade 6 student from Pope John Paul II, has never been trapping before. He said he’s learned that trapping is hard, long work, but that he got to experience “peace and quiet” out in the bush.
“I was worried that you’d just be killing animals for no reason,” said Monika Favreau, a Grade 7 student, “but it’s a way to live and it’s really respectful. We put out tobacco before we start,” she said.
“A lot of kids are talking about how they want to go out snaring rabbits with their parents,” Kelly said. “It’s just teaching them how to get on the land and use the land for their own personal benefit.”