First Nations initiative was paused due to pandemic restrictions
After putting the initiative on hold for the last two years due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the Manitoba Wildlife Federation is once again working with First Nations communities in the province to set up hunter education and firearms safety courses.
This past May, the MWF’s event and program coordinator, Chris Benson, and another federation volunteer spent two weeks in Churchill delivering “train-the-trainer” courses to three community leaders who will now go on to educate new hunters. The pair also helped lead a mentored snow goose hunt for local youth.
The MWF, which oversees Manitoba’s entire hunter ed program, delivered the training program in partnership with the Town of Churchill, the Subarctic Friendship Circle, the Churchill Health Centre and the Warrior Caregivers, a local men’s mental health group.
Youths learn the ropes via mentored snow goose huntsBest known as a popular tourist destination for polar bear watching, Churchill lies on the shores of Hudson Bay, approximately 1,000 kilometres north of Winnipeg. According to Benson, the town’s remote location means there’s an additional long-term benefit to training local mentors on how to share their hunting knowledge with a new generation of hunters.
“When you’re living in the North, food insecurity is a real issue,” he says. “The cost of groceries is very high. Being able to harvest wild game really helps the local community bring down some of those food costs.”
And that’s where mentored goose hunts also play a role in the program. Benson says participants learn all they need to know to become a successful goose hunter, including conservation and ethics, hunter safety, shooting skills, waterfowl identification, calling, decoy set-up and blind construction. “This is something I’m really passionate about,” Benson says. “It’s a great program.”
Learn more about the MWF’s programs and positions at www.mwf.mb.ca.