Indigenous organization purchase farmland to reconnect youth with their roots

Why does smoke from a campfire seem to follow you around? The answer lies in physics. (Pexels)

A local Indigenous organization is hoping to reconnect Indigenous youth with their roots with the purchase of farmland north of Winnipeg.

Rylee Nepinak, the co-founder of Anishiative, said the land purchased is being turned into an Indigenous youth summer camp where kids will be able to live off the land.

“What it can offer is a purpose, some belonging. Our youth really need that,” Nepinak said. “They can make long lasting friendships, tell stories by the fire, plant and pick medicine, sleep in teepees…I feel like we all needed a place like this when we were younger.”

The land is near Fraserwood, Man. and the idea for a permanent location came after the organization hosted a successful summer camp last year.

“It was such an amazing experience and had such a great impact on them that we realized that this is something we want to do every year.”

Nepinak said he has always wanted to host a land-based camp as it helps kids discover themselves. He added it also gives him an opportunity to continue to grow as a person.

“I’m a North End kid and a lot of kids in my neighbourhood, like myself, we didn’t get an opportunity to build this connection to the land and attend a grassroots experience like this. We didn’t get that. This is helping too on my journey.”

He said they are hosting the first camp in July and then in the fall they plan to build permanent structures like cabins and a teaching lodge.

Nepinak said the long term goal for the area when construction is done is to have the ability to have year round camps for inner city youth and kids from up north. He said each season brings new experiences for kids to learn from.

“This has been a long time coming and much needed…this is something special.”

The camp will officially be named next month. For those who are wanting to attend between July 15 and 17, Nepinak said it is completely free and people can reach out to him directly to register.