Updated: Apr 20
Both 12 years of age, friends Jaredan Smith and Caleb Smith from the Pinehouse Photography Club, join elder Donald Boyd while he checks on his snares near Pinehouse Lake. Donald Boyd, 61 years of age says he has been trapping since he was 20. "It was taught to me by my parents and "it's a way of life for me" Boyd says, " I usually set my snares and then go check them every 3-4 days".
Boyd uses the rabbits and what he catches to feed his family, friends and elders. "It has been a part of our culture for thousands of years...to live off the land and share with others", Boyd.
An important part of trapping and hunting is sharing with other people from the community. "When someone has food, everyone shares".
Connecting youth to culture: "We wanted to use photography to help youth connect with traditional ways of life," explains Erwin. "By taking photographs, young people are able to not only experience things they might not see every day, but they are also able to produce something that will help preserve traditions that may be lost over time." Erwin. As he proceeded to check on the about 50 snares and traps he had set out, Boyd gladly encouraged the youth to join him.
"It gives us more appreciation and respect for our culture" Jaredan Smith
The party discovered a rabbit still alive in a snare during their hike. "I've only ever seen this happen once," Jaredan says, "but I've never seen a live rabbit caught before." During their walk along a dimly lighted track about a kilometer long, the teenagers discovered three rabbits caught in snares, one of which was still alive. "It was terrible to watch how the bunnies were murdered," Celeb adds, referring to Boyd's fast slaughter. "It's part of our culture," Boyd says. "Sometimes the rabbits or animals are still alive and have to be killed."
"It was a lot of fun" says Caleb. "I can't wait to go out again!". It was "really enjoyable. We were able to get outside, get some exercise, take pictures and be able to be a part of this!" Jaredan. "I want to get more youth from the club involved" Jaredan.
Therapeutic photography is used by the Pinehouse Photography Club to help young people talk about mental health. The organization also use photographic skills to assist young people in connecting with cultural events. "Going out and taking pictures has a greater meaning for children. They make connections with elders and traditional ways of life while capturing memories and moments that will last a lifetime " says Erwin. "We find that youth are happier when they feel like they belong," Erwin explains.
"It feels fantastic to be a part of this and to be able to contribute by shooting pictures," says club member Charlene Halkett, "it helps us connect with tradition."
Empowering First Nations and Metis communities through photography not only provides a platform for cultural expression and preservation but also enables individuals to share their stories and perspectives with the world. By capturing the beauty of the Northern Lights and other aspects of nature and culture, First Nations and Metis photographers can showcase their unique perspectives and experiences, challenge stereotypes, and contribute to a greater understanding and appreciation of Indigenous cultures. Through photography, these communities can reclaim their narratives and promote positive change, while celebrating their rich history and mythology surrounding the Northern Lights.