chapleau-smallGraduates of the MNO Chapleau Métis Councils Fur Management and
Conservation Course: Standing (left to right) Al Morin, Jayden Byce, Chad Byce,
Patrick Dillon, Cameron Plourde, Ben Plourde and Instructor Nelson Montreuil.
Kneeling (left to right) Frank St. Amand, Jeremy Pilote, and Brian Byce.
Click here for a larger version of the picture.

By MNO Chapleau Métis Council President David Hamilton

The definition of culture is: “The sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. Culture is transmitted, through language, material objects, ritual, institutions, and art, from one generation to the next.” The fur trade in Canada has been a part of Canadian history for hundreds of years and is deeply rooted into the culture of the Métis people across this country; the Métis have even been called the “children of the fur trade.” Métis were voyageurs, traders, trappers, hunters, explorers, guides and servants of the fur traders. The fur trade is the connection of Métis to each other and Métis culture.

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Chapleau Métis Council sponsored a Fur Management and Conservation Course between January 11 and 14, 2018. A total of ten students participated with six of these being MNO citizens. The course consisted of three days of classroom study and one day of practical application in the bush. Students learned about fur bearer biology, humane harvesting techniques, trap-line safety and proper pelt preparation. Who better to teach a class of Métis students than Métis harvester and MNO Mattawa Métis Council President Nelson Montreuil? Probably no one! He is a Métis trapper and a certified trapping instructor with the Fur Managers Federation of Ontario. Montreuil brought over 40 years of experience hunting and trapping in the Mattawa/Nipissing traditional territory to the course.

The final day of the course saw the students apply what they had learned in the classroom to the bush. The field portion of the course was held on MNO Chapleau Métis Council President David Hamilton’s own trapping territory; a trap line that has been in his family for almost 100 years. As everyone is well aware, this winter most of North America has been under a deep freeze and with temperatures hovering around -30 C; the first priority was for the students to build a big fire; after which each candidate was required to make two trap sets for randomly selected fur bearing animals.

All students passed the course and will receive a certificate from the Fur Managers Federation, which will allow them to acquire their own trap lines from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry or start as helpers on others.
In this way part of Métis culture and history will continue to live on. While no one expects all Métis youth to take up trapping as a full time avocation; at the same time they should know where they came from and it is an excellent way to stay fit and healthy; especially if you combine it with a diet of country foods (fish and game). Chronic diseases like diabetes were almost unheard of when the Indigenous people of Canada lived close to the land. There is also the bonus of a little money to be made at trapping and they will be helping to “preserve our culture.”

This course and others were made possible by cultural support funding from Detour Gold.

Posted: January 17, 2018