Nikani Awtiken logoIf you were a Mi’kmaq teenager, what could be better than to spend a week this summer on the Bras d’Or Lakes?

How about reconnecting with nature, learning all about natural resources and traditional Mi’kmaq values and practices?

For the next week that is exactly what is happening at Nikani Awtiken, a summer camp for Mi’kmaq youth taking place at Camp Rankin near St. Peter’s over the next eight days, August 7–14.

Twenty-eight teenagers from across Nova Scotia have signed on to take workshops and field trips led by resource experts and Mi’kmaq Elders, who will provide training in a wide range of skills including forest management, native species and medicinal plant identification, beach seines, fire and boating safety, team building, leadership skills, first aid, professional work ethics and traditional Mi’kmaq knowledge.

If you aren’t tired out just hearing about some of the things that these youth will be doing,throw in nightly campfires, a day of eel spearing, a sweat lodge and a hike in the Cape Breton Highlands’ Skyline Trail! Did we mention the feast and BBQ?

Nadine LeFort is Education & Outreach Coordinator at Mi’kmaq Education Learning Centre (MELC) and over the past few months she has been arranging the camp activities, recruiting the participants, hiring staff and attending to the many, many details involved in a project of this scope.

“Nikani Awtiken, is a Mi’kmaq phrase that means “trail blazing” or “creating a new path”, and while this is our third year in hosting the camp, every year is a new adventure!

If the responses from last year are any indication, we can expect another great year as participants develop new confidence and skills that we hope will lead to careers in natural resources or conservation.”

Funding for this year’s Nikani Awtiken was provided by Nova Scotia Departments of Natural Resources and Education, UINR, Cape Breton University, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Georgia Pacific, Little Narrows Gypsum, United Church of Canada, Port Hawkesbury Paper, Premium Seafoods, Membertou, Eskasoni, Membertou Heritage Park, Parks Canada and Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps.