Dancing Wild Rice Anew: Young People and Eco-Cultural Restoration, Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, Canada

KUZIVANOVA, Valeria - University of Manitoba
Marvin, MCDONALD - Wabaseemoong Independent Nations

The Wabaseemoong Independent Nations (WIN) community in northwestern Ontario, Canada, has a long tradition of harvesting wild rice. In the 1980s, this practice was disrupted, not only due to the destruction of the plant’s habitat, but also due to socio-cultural and economic changes. In this paper, we discuss an eco-cultural initiative of WIN to restore both the plant and people’s inter-relationship with wild rice. Young people, whose participation is required for long-term inter-relationship re-establishment, were actively involved. Data on their knowledge, motivations for participation, and perspectives on restoration were documented through interviews. Workshops for both Elders and young people helped to design a prototype of the wild rice camp, which was tested in 2014. Also, a workshop for teachers allowed for the identification of the school priorities. After this workshop, teaching materials were developed and potential links of wild rice knowledge to the Ontario curriculum were explored.