Harvest From the Land

When I was six my dad took a new summer job at Charlie Lake so the family could be together over the summer instead of dad going to Great Slave Lake by himself to work and camp on Joliffe Island.

This meant happy afternoons picking Saskatoon berries along the Peace River and learning how to harvest wild game. Dad taught me how to really see in the woods, how to read trail and game sign. Mom taught me how to cook the wild game we harvested.

Mom was dangerously allergic to the chemicals in store bought meat so dad would harvest game from nature’s grocery store for the family. I remember eating Mountain Goat, Caribou and Buffalo as this was not regular fare. I have eaten far too much Moose and mom especially loved her Whitetail Deer roasts. She would beam with pride when she carried a deer roast out of the oven to place on the table at dinner time.

My favorite food however, was Saskatoon pie barely sweetened with Peace River honey. Too much sweetener covers up the unique berry taste.  Mom was suspicious of the white sugar and said that it weakened a person but she taught me that honey made a person stronger.  Now I can read modern nutrition writings to confirm this.



My grandmother was of Mohawk blood and her love and nurture imprinted me with a deep connection with my First Nations heritage even though I was of mixed blood.

From an early age I ran through the woods on the game trails like a young deer.     Bare chested and barefoot if I was not proudly wearing my moose wrap moccasins made by the women elders of Great Slave Lake.

At the start of summer when dad would be packing to leave for his summer’s work on Great Slave Lake he would have me stand on a piece of card paper and would trace my small feet. Then the elders would use this as the pattern for my moccasins that dad brought back to me at the end of summer when he returned.

As he would hand me my new moccasins he would speak out an affirmation that I was First Nations in a way that made me feel as proud and strong as a wolf.