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Making maple syrup at Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig (9 photos)

'That’s what we’re all about here, revitalizing those old traditions'
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The sound of drumming and singing spills out of the teaching lodge situated behind Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig.

Smoke from the fire that is boiling down maple sap is rolling out of the top of the structure.

Students from Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig and Algoma University have been busy over the past three weeks, hauling sap from the nearby sugar bush and into the lodge in order to be boiled down into Maple syrup, sugar and candy.  

“It’s just an awesome community event,” said Mitch Case, director of student services, outreach and resources at Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig. “We have all these beautiful old stories of maple syrup, maple sugar and where those things come from.”

“It’s so good to see the students doing this work.”

It’s been a busy week for the teaching lodge, as volunteers from the local Indigenous community collected roughly 180 gallons of sap from the sugar bush since Tuesday.

The teaching lodge has also been busy the past couple of weeks, as people gather to help out with the maple syrup boil before settling in to share stories and songs during the evening hours.

A feast was held Sunday afternoon as a way of giving thanks.

“We have a feast, a potluck feast where everybody’s bringing a dish to share, and we’re going to do our pipe ceremony to recognize those trees that have given that sap up for us, to recognize those trees that have given themselves up to feed that fire, and then to recognize all the community members that have come here,” Case said.

Algoma University student Desiree Hardy, who is originally from Rocky Bay First Nation north of Thunder Bay, says that she’s been coming to the lodge to learn about making maple syrup, which is a relatively new concept for her.

“I’m a student, and it’s nice just to get out here and sit by the fire and listen to stories, and have fun,” Hardy said. “It’s a stressful time, especially during exam time. It’s really relaxing, and it brings your spirit out. It’s awesome, I really enjoy it.”

Making maple syrup from the sap found in the sugar bush on the campus of Algoma University is a time-honoured tradition, going back more than three decades.  

“That’s what we’re all about here, revitalizing those old traditions,” Case said.