It was all hands on deck as members of various organizations and communities worked to erect a trapping and cultural cabin on Moose Mountain road last weekend (Aug. 24-26).
The cabin was constructed on a trapline belonging to Stoney Nakoda elder Roland Rollinmud on the site of one that was burnt down in 2013. The new cabin was built to provide a place to pass along traditional teachings, act as a bridge between communities, and also provide a space for healing for members of the Stoney Nation.
The three-day build was managed by members of the Rotary Club of Canmore, Canmore Young Adult Network (CYAN), MD of Bighorn, Bow Valley Jiu Jitsu and members of the Stoney Nakoda.
During the build, stories were shared, a smudging ceremony was performed, and members of the team formed friendships and relationships with each other.
“To me, it’s to share with anybody who wants help in the wilderness to come and have a talk with elders. To help people,” said Rollinmud. “It’s amazing how we can share these kinds of things.”
“I always wanted that cabin back … when the old one was out here we were out here almost every day. In summer we lived out here for months, we didn’t go home,” said Rollinmud’s son, Orneil.
“It’s for the youth, because the youth are losing their culture. (we will) teach them everything, to hunt, trap, and my sisters and my mother will teach the young ladies how to make dry meat
“It’s an awesome place and I love it out here. There’s no cellphone signal, nothing to worry about. Just time.”
Orneil was grateful for the wide support the project garnered; he expected only a handful of volunteers and was pleasantly surprised that nearly 50 people showed up over the three days.
“I expected there was going to be seven of us, I didn’t except a whole crew to show up yesterday and today and I’m really thankful for them. They can come back out here any time they want, because they literally did the entire cabin.”
The project was the result of a grant provided through the MD of Bighorn and financed through 100 Women Who Care and the Banff Canmore Community Foundation.
Deb Grady, community services coordinator for the MD of Bighorn, was the designated ‘gofer’ during the weekend. She ran for supplies the team needed for the build.
“The whole idea is to get younger people together, the young adults, to start getting some better relationships with them and developing some friendship and some comfort with each other,” said Grady.
“I just think it’s a really good example of how we can get together and get to know each other and, underneath the colour of our skins, we’re all the same and we should treat each other with respect and open minds.”
According to Grady, the project was years in the making. The cabin first qualified for a grant back in 2014. During the next four years the project was delayed by staff turnover and waiting on approval to build on the site of the original cabin.
Only in the fall of 2017 was material for the cabin first hauled in. To get the project built, Grady called Michelle Dagenais, president of the Rotary Club of Canmore.
Dagenais sprang into action, mobilizing Rotary members as well as reaching out to CYAN to help. Between the two organizations they managed to bring in a busload of people.
“We had seven different countries represented from just the diversity here in the Bow Valley; we had just as many Stoney people as off reserve people, which was really a great indication of how much this is going to work,” said Dagenais.
“Also, various groups within the community, it was really cool to see. I’m proud of the work that was done and the building is almost finished and I believe good stuff will happen here.
“We (Rotary) do a lot of good work around the world and the big work has to also be done here at home. So I just felt like it was an opportunity for us to start building relationships, start healing, and helping us to understand the beauty we have right in our backyard. I was honoured to be asked, and I know my whole club was happy to pitch in. That’s what we do, we step up and come together.”
Dagenais was also grateful for the opportunity to learn from Stoney elders. According to her, the build was a welcoming place, with questions encouraged between the Stoney people and the off reserve communities.
According to Caylee Labranche, co-chair of CYAN’s board, the build was a chance to reach out to members of the Stoney Nakoda. CYAN has been looking into how to welcome members of the reserve to its programming, and the build was an opportunity to make that connection.
“I was up on the roof and nailing shingles to the roof and I’ve never done that before. To learn new skills, to meet new people, to hear stories, it’s just been an incredible day and it really inspires me,” said Megan Hudson, VP of communications with CYAN.
“I’m exhausted because I’ve never done any of this, but I can’t imagine doing anything else today.”