Hunting, trapping and fishing has always been the traditional way of life for First Nations people. This lifestyle has been dwindling as more First Nation’s people change how they live and depend more on technology.
Trapping has slowly become a dying practice as fewer younger generations lose interest in the traditional way of caring for themselves and their families. One young woman from Shoal Lake Cree Nation is trying to preserve tradition.
Shana Lathlin, a young woman of 19, graduated from high school in 2014 and hopes to pursue her dreams of policing. In the meantime she is attaining an appreciation for her culture through trapping and hunting.
Lathlin is learning how to trap and hunt from her uncle, Michael McLeod, who was keen on acquiring an apprentice to pass on his knowledge to.
Lathlin started trapping and hunting in 2013 and loves learning about how her ancestors lived in Shoal Lake as trappers and hunters.
“The long walks, the excitement of catching an animal and setting the trap” said Lathlin about how she got fascinated with trapping.
The first year she trapped she was recognized with a Youth of the North Award, from NSTA (Northern Trappers Association of Saskatchewan).
She gave a speech at their convention and thanked the people who supported her in her instruction and for the recognition she received from the NTAS.
She was also interviewed by MBC radio, in Cree, to tell her story of learning how to trap and helping her uncle how to teach others.
She’s learned three kinds of traps called leg hold traps. They’re for trapping smaller kind of for animals like martens and mink. Sometimes she catches birds on her traps as well.
“It took me a day to learn how to set traps, they’re easy to do, but it takes a lot of practice. It takes me five to 10 minutes to set a trap,” Lathlin Said.
She is now learning more about bigger traps for bigger animals like wolves, she has set one but did not catch anything.
Trapping has also become Lathlins part time job. She works as a parent aid at Nechapanuk First Nations Family services helping her uncle when he takes a group of boys aged 9-12 out to teach them how to trap.
She has improved her trapping this year and had made a profit with her furs as last year her and her uncle did not catch any animals to sell. This year she received $860 for twelve martens and two lynx.
“I think it's great that she started to learn how to trap and I hope other young ladies start trapping next year,” said Vera Young, a Community Wellness Co-ordinator from Shoal Lake.
Lathlin is thankful for all the knowledge she has received from her uncle and continues to be a role model in her community. She and her uncle continue to teach youth about trapping in order to revitalize the art.