Fall Harvest Gathering in Thunder Bay

Submitted by: Joan Panizza, MNO Community Wellness Coordinator

Fall Harvest Gathering
MNO Senator Bob McKay leads an information
session on commercial fishing at the Fall
Harvest Gathering in Thunder Bay.

The Eighth Annual Fall Harvest Gathering took place from September 23-25 in Thunder Bay and had over 800 visitors in attendance. The annual event, organized by Community Coalition Unified for the Protection of Children and Youth (CCUPCY), brings together First Nation and Métis knowledge holders whom share traditional lifestyle practices with their respective communities.

Every Fall Harvest Gathering includes hands-on, interactive work stations that are steeped in traditional knowledge. At this year’s gathering, visitors learned about a variety of traditional aboriginal practices, such as: wild rice preparation; hide preparation of wild game; information on traditional plants and medicines; corn soup, bannock, and jam making; moccasin sewing; various birch bark crafts; fish processing; drumming; snowshoe stories; jigging; and, commercial fishing practises.

Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Senator Bob McKay shared in his traditional knowledge by leading a workshop on commercial fishing. MNO Senator McKay has been a part of these gatherings in Thunder Bay and Fort Frances since their inception.

MNO Community Wellness Coordinator Joan Panizza has also been a part of these gatherings for the past three years and has provided games and jigging entertainment. This year, Joan brought along MNO Cultural Students, Lucy Fowler and Amy Slemko, to help facilitate the jigging station.

“It was an honour to be with Senator McKay and to listen to his many stories, which were delivered with the same energy and sense of fun from the first group to the last,” Panizza said. “As many know, Senator McKay comes from a fishing family and has been fishing the north shore of Lake Superior for most of his life. His collection of nets, corks, and lines paired with his vibrant stories, held the fascination and intrigue of the students, parents and teachers.”

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