• Lorna Hamilton

Fur, Feathers, And Fun


The Vermilion Public Library held a ‘Fur, Feathers, and Fun’ program in front of the Vermilion Heritage Museum on August 18, for children ages 5 to 12.

Under sunny skies, the children and adults had the opportunity to handle bones and furs, participate in animal-themed crafts such as painting rocks with a bird theme, visit inside the museum, observe traps that were used in the trapping industry for beavers, minks, and otters, etc. They were also able to look at traps used by Alberta Fish and Wildlife Service to capture nuisance animals such as bears (some children even had the opportunity to go inside a bear trap).

A story by Nicholas Oldland titled ‘A Walk on the Wild’ was read by Program Coordinator Shelia Heit, while her volunteers Gary Walsh (Vermilion River Watershed Alliance Alumni), Mitchell Visser (District Fish and Wildlife Officer), Carrie Goldsmith (Animator, New Dawn Metis Women's Society, Region 2 Bonnyville) used puppets of a beaver, moose, and bear to act out the scenes.

The children in attendance were full of excitement and eagerness to participate in the activities.

“This is a lot of fun!” stated the children in attendance.

Stacey Hryciuk a Vermilion River Watershed Alliance Alumni showed the children a muskrat hat, a felt hat, and a sash made by Indigenous people which they used to carry beaver pelts. She also talked to the children about the importance of keeping our land clean by not littering.

Francis Dumais, a Metis Nation Region 2 Metis Elder showed the children and adults beaver, otter, fisher, and mink pelts, as well as the skull of a beaver and three different traps they had used.

“I did a trapping course and I learned how to use the traps and to prepare the pelts,” explained Dumais.

Sheila Heit, Programs Coordinator for the Vermilion Public Library stated that they partnered with the Vermilion River Watershed Alliance, Vermilion Heritage Museum, Metis Nation Region 2, and VIBE to put together this event.

At the end of the demonstrations and activities, attendees had the opportunity to prepare and taste bannock which was cooked in the open oven at the Vermilion Heritage Park, thanks to VIBE who shared was willing to share the space which they already had booked for their programs.

“The Vermilion River Watershed Alliance (VRWA) organized the experts you see at this program today. Volunteers included: Sheila Heit (Vermilion Library), Jean Murie (President/Volunteer, Vermilion Heritage Museum), Mitchell Visser (District Fish and Wildlife Officer, Alberta Fish and Wildlife Service), Carrie Goldsmith (Animator for Rural Mental Health, New Dawn Metis Women's Society, Region 2), Francis Dumais (Region 2 Metis Elder), Andrea Sandmaier (Vice President, Metis Nation of Alberta Region 2) Gary Walsh (VRWA Alumni), Stacey Hryciuk (VRWA Alumni), Jessica Emmott (VRWA Alumni) and Pat Calyniuk (Manager VIBE).

We combined forces to put on some relevant outside summer-fun programming for the children in our community area”, explained Heit.

Heit also expressed her delight in the turnout for the program.

“It’s a fantastic turnout, we had 31 attendees and I thank all the community groups who helped make these programs such a success,” said Heit.


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