Kaaren Dannenmann, Trapping Instructor
Provide a brief general introduction about yourself.
My name is Kaaren Dannenmann. I am a NamekisipiiwAnishinaapeKwe, a woman from Trout Lake, Ontario. I am a mother of three and grandmother of four.
What does your daily job entail?
I do not have a daily job, but I do get contract work to teach five-day trapping courses that are certified by the Grand Council Treaty #3 and recognized by Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Ontario.
What got you interested in your chosen career?
My interest in trapping began with my brother. I became a trapper on his line. We worked with other trappers of Treaty #3 to bring the administrative work of trapping in our treaty area back to the people living there. An agreement was finally reached in 2005 with Ontario and Canada. By that time, we had already developed a trapping course based on traditional Anishinaape knowledge.
How did you get to where you are today?
I have no conventional “education." My teachers were the Land, the Lake, NamekosipiiwAnishinaapek (people from Trout Lake) and now children, especially my grandchildren.
As a child, my mother and her relatives educated me by their example. As an adult, I moved back to Trout Lake where my education continued, again by my mother, my brother, my cousins and the Land and the Lake. My homeland always motivates and inspires me, as well as traditional people and the children who learn so well and so quickly, the earlier we teach them. My grandchildren are great teachers and inspire me daily.
How do you keep developing your skills in your career?
I continue to develop my skills by staying in touch with my teachers, with the Land and with All our Relations on the Land, water and sky. I meet and exchange information with trappers wherever I go. I know I am a learner as much as I am a teacher.
Any health or physical requirements in your career?
One has to be physically strong enough to be on the Land because it takes strength to set traps, walk, snowshoe, paddle, and portage. It takes knowledge to be able to live on the Land. It takes perseverance to be still, quiet and receptive to learn from the Land and All our Relations.
What are some things you like about your career?
Trapping is first and foremost a spiritual activity. We are always developing our relationship with Creator, all of Creation, and the four Life Givers: enlightening, strengthening, and above all, healing.
Outside of work, what kind of things do you do to take care of yourself?
Outside of work, I use the Medicine Wheel Teachings as a way of staying grounded in community and in taking care of myself. I use the circles of the Four Aspects of Self, the Four Aspects of our Collective Lives and the four Rascals. That is a workshop in itself!
What do you still home to achieve?
I am presently working on a School in the Bush, where children can come and spend a day or more on the Land and learn to connect with their home place.
What would you like to share with the youth reading this?
There are many life skills on the Land that youth should learn, skills that include the principles and ceremonies of harvest, the reciprocal relationship to the Land, traditional technology (making a birchbark canoe, bone toys, tools and equipment, snowshoes, etc., etc.) Around our communities, there are many teachers. Take advantage!!!
150 years on Stolen Land