By Shaun Malley, Community Journalism Trainer
There was sizeable gash in my left thumb, the result of my ham-handed attempts to skin the inner bark of a tree a few weeks ago.
A traditional herbalist was teaching myself and a few others here in Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation (WLON), my home for the next seven months. It was tough at first, being a big city boy with remarkably little experience with a retractable blade after all. I cut myself several times. I bled a fair bit. But after a day and a half of slicing, scratching and planing wood, I finally got the hang of it. The initial pain and frustration were all worth it.
If that’s in any way emblematic of my time in this beautiful community, then I have nothing to worry about.
I’ve been in WLON for a wee bit more than a month but I feel at home. Mind you, it helps a lot when you’re able to step away from your desk to do things like learn about the medicinal properties of certain types of trees. Or to come home to sunsets that will leave you breathless. But most of all, it’s the people. Some of them already feel more like family than acquaintances I’ve met through work.
By day and evening, I give workshops and one-on-one training. People in the community give me ideas on topics, and we work together to come up with items for print and/or broadcast. I’ve partnered up with two teachers at the school to work on projects as well. Happy to report that two trainees have already had their work accepted by our partners at Wawatay. It’s been a productive month; here’s to many more!
Shaun is a new community journalism trainer who is in Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation from April to December 2017.