Nunavik Junior Rangers camp on James Bay
“It went so well, we were surprised. It was the best camp yet”
For the first time since 1997, the annual Okpiapik summer camp for Junior Rangers was held outside of Nunavik, in the James Bay community of Wemindji.
From June 30 to July 11, 174 Junior Rangers from Nunavik, the Cree terrritory, Naspaki and Montagnais communities as well as from Quebec’s Lower North Shore honed their leadership skills and traditional knowledge.
Bringing together members from the various Junior Rangers patrols, who spoke a mix of Inuktitut, Cree, Naskapi, English and French, wasn’t a problem.
In fact, according to Capt. Luc Pinsonneault, deputy commander of the Second Rangers Patrol Group, any shyness among the campers disappeared within a half an hour.
“It went so well, we were surprised. It was the best camp yet,” Pinsonneault said.
During the camp, the Junior Rangers learned about archery, traditional Cree cuisine, crafts and marksmenship.
Campers also participated in a 24-hour traditional camp where they learned how to make a shelter and survive on the land.
Nunavik’s Junior Rangers were enthusiastic about their experience, when they were interviewed at the camp for Servir, a newspaper published for the armed forces in Quebec.
“It’s the second time I’ve been to the camp. I really like the sports, although it’s so hot here!” said Paul Beaulne, 15, from Puvirnituq.
“What I liked the best was the 24-hour camp and then making my own dream-catcher,” said Anna Ningiuk, 16, from Inukjuak. “Here, you also have the chance to meet people and make new friends.”
For first-time camper, Lukassie Matt Mar 13, sleeping in a teepee was a favourite activity, while Lizzie Nowra, 15, from Inukjuak, enjoyed canoeing.
“I’d never done that before coming here, but I’d never eaten moose before either!”
The corporals from each patrol also followed a leadership training course during the camp.
Before heading home, the Junior Rangers visited the impressive Robert Bourassa dam and hydro-electric project nearby.
Next year’s camp will be held in Blanc Sablon on the Lower North Shore, before Okpiapik returns back to Nunavik in 2006.