We Came in as Outsiders and Left as Friends

Sitting around a campfire in Fort Albany, a local woman preparing a goose stew told fabled stories of legends from their First Nation community. The Standing Bear youth that surrounded her hung on her every word.

Situated deep in northern Ontario, Fort Albany was new and unchartered territory for the program in early July. Through the Camp, youth from the community engaged in various sport and recreation activities, leadership programming, and local Indigenous teachings that crossed demographic lines, nurtured local youth and helped to bring residents together.

While the team may have entered the community as outsiders, they left as friends.

“You could see the difference in the kids and the sense of comfort and humour that came out from them throughout the week,” said Standing Bear Youth Leadership Coordinator Hillary McGregor. “It was great to see that our program resonated to that level.”

Watermelon also became a unique way to reach out to youth in the area. Freshly cut slices of the fruit were a real treat in the community where just one watermelon can run up to $50.

“We brought in three over the course of the week and it was really important for participation at that camp,” said McGregor. “Seeing the impact of bringing a watermelon to the Standing Bear community feast was definitely eye-opening, especially going into our other Northern Camp in Fort Hope later this summer. The understanding that we’re gaining through these Camps will be beneficial for the growth of the program for years to come.”


Author: Wendy-Ann Clarke