Photo by Bee Bird

Logging away the traplines

Viewing his own hunting grounds gives a senior trapper more questions about our way of living

by Bee Bird

Over the holidays I ran into my grandmother’s husband, Wilfred Bird. Wilfred is from Timber Bay, Sask., which is connected to Montreal Lake, and he has lived in both places.

“I used to live in a trapline up near Campton Lake and they cut a lot of trees and it made it harder for me to hunt the food that we need to eat and share with other families,” he told me. 

The Indigenous people of Saskatchewan’s woodland forests are vulnerable to losing their cultural way of life due to deforestation and climate change.

Wilfred explained to me that there used to be plenty of trees on his old trapline and that now he has to move.

“A trapline I used to go to in one place where I used to be raised had a bunch of poplar and jackpine were all cut down,” he said.

Getting a little deeper into research and discovery leaves me to question what really is the root cause of what affects those who only live off of what our Creator gave us.

A senior speaks about how it is to live in the boreal forest and to have his trapline inherited to him from his father but then unfortunately ruined by the people who come and cut everything.

Saskatchewan has trappers who are given pieces of land that they can live off of and trade furs for money and the forest they hunt are being taken away for profit from bigger trading companies. The companies can be incorporated business such as the Hudson’s Bay Company.

The senior trappers of the reserve that are affected by the deforestation are trying to focus on the main points of the forestry restoration plans and hope they are making efforts to try to help the ecosystem along with their way of life.

“Everything is connected in some way and we all have to live off of the land in the future,” said Wilfred.

The trappers play a big role in the future of everybody who lives off the land. Their interest is in helping Mother Nature. They live and prosper from the animals that thrive off the ecosystem. Wilfred makes a difference in the ecosystem when he hunts and it makes a good difference to the forest.

The land is what really keeps us together and its weather. How we treat the land is how we’re going to live as Indigenous people.