Pijitsirniq – Serving and Providing for Family and Community
Hunter in the Making Mentorship Program seeks to provide Urban Inuit with the opportunity to gain contemporary and traditional skills and knowledge required to hunt, harvest and prepare a country food for safe and sustainable consumption. The goal of this program is to;
a) address ongoing issues with food security by providing members of the Urban Inuit community the knowledge and skills required to harvest country food in a safe and sustainable way for themselves, their families, Elders and community.
b) Allow opportunities for community to engage in traditional land-based teachings, principles and values through participation in traditional practices related to animal harvest.
c) provide opportunities for the Urban Inuit community to gather, share experience, knowledge as well as establish, build and maintain relationships, a sense of community, belonging and identity.
This land-based community-centered program will take place in multiple phases over a 6 month period leading to the fall hunting season.
Phase 1: Hunter Certification. Over the course of 4 weeks, novice hunters will complete 12 modules of the Hunter Education Certification program administered online through the Alberta Hunters Education Instructors Association. By the end of the 4 weeks, they will have completed the requirements to obtain the certification necessary to harvest animals in Alberta.
Phase 2: Firearms Safety. Hunters in training will participate in a firearms safety training program . They learn to safely use /handle a firearm. At the end of the course, participants will complete written and practical tests to apply learning. Upon completion participants will have completed the requirements to obtain their Possession and Acquisition License (PAL) necessary to own and operate a firearm. Novice hunters will be further guided and provided systematic instructions to complete and submit applications to obtain their PAL. This phase also includes target shooting at a firing range to allow participants to gain familiarity, comfort and confidence handling firearms.
Phase 3: Mentorship & Hunting . Participants will be paired up with experience hunters to plan, prepare and go out onto the land to hunt and harvest an animal.
Phase 4: Community Gathering . Hunters will arrange to bring their harvest to a community gathering where Elders and knowledge keepers will share and lead community members through traditional teachings around the preparation and sharing of meat, hide, bone.
Who Will it Benefit?
Ensuring future generations of Inuit living outside of Inuit Nunangat are provided equitable opportunities to maintain their culture, continue to engage with the land, heal from past traumas and, are protected from ongoing assimilation, know who they are and, are proud of their unique identity is at the heart of this program. This program will benefit the Edmonton Urban Inuit Community in its entirety; Elders, Adults, Youth, Children, Men, Women. Additionally, it will provide a way for organizations with limited Inuit affiliation to learn more about the Inuit community, culture, allowing organizations such as AHEAI, the opportunity to work along side Inuit in coming to understand the connections to the land.
While an increasing number of Inuit travel south seeking improved access to health care, education and employment, many struggle with the transition from a remote community to an urban setting. The "[a] culturation stress associated with adjusting to a new country, language, culture, […] can be associated with depression, anxiety, identity confusion, feelings of marginality, and alienation … isolation from social and family networks, limited opportunities to sustain engagement in the previous culture, [and loss] of language” (Barnes, R., & Josefowitz, N. p. 2019) as well as discrimination, lack of representation and voice lead to negative experiences. In 2017, after conducting extensive research, the Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada (2017) published a report examining the experience of Inuit women in urban settings. It found that “positive experiences [were a result of] the presence of a social network, kin and friends, secure and adequate housing, participation in cultural practices, good health and well-being, and economic opportunities” (Pauktuutit. p.2. 2017). While the Inuit population in Alberta is limited in comparison to our First Nation and Métis populations, it continues to grow significantly, contributing to the rich and vibrant Indigenous culture of the province of Alberta. As the population grows, so does the need to provide consistent, continuous and sustainable Inuit centered programming and services.