Indigenous organization buys farmland to reconnect youth with their roots

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

Rylee Nepinak, co-founder of Anishiative, said the purchased land is being turned into an Indigenous youth summer camp where children can live off the land.

“What he can offer is purpose, belonging. Our young people really need it,” Nepinak said. “They can make 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 held a successful summer camp last year.

“It was such an amazing experience and had such an impact on them that we realized it was something we wanted to do every year.”

Nepinak said he’s always wanted to have a land camp because it helps kids discover themselves. He added that it also gives him the opportunity to continue to grow as a person.

“I’m a kid from the North End and a lot of kids in my neighborhood, like me, we haven’t had the opportunity to make that connection to the land and witness a community experience like this. We didn’t understand. It also helps me 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 once construction is complete is to have the ability to have year-round camps for inner-city North youth and children. He said each season brings new experiences for children.

“It’s been a long time coming and very necessary…it’s something special.”

The camp will be officially named next month. For those wishing to attend between July 15 and 17, Nepinak said it’s completely free and people can contact him directly to register.