Richard Mercredi and his wife Barb are trappers from Fort Smith with extensive knowledge of traditional values and the rich history of living off the land in the Northwest territories. Richard has been hunting and trapping in Fort Smith for nearly his whole life and says, no matter how hard he tried as a young man, The life kept pulling him back.
My father and my uncles, my cousins and my grandfather were all trappers. And then, we lived on the land for a portion of my life. I lived there, our whole family lived in the bush at one point, and then I lived there with my dad for years 1960, 61, 62, and part of 63. So it kind of grew on me and the pull was there and once I left, I went back to school and became an electrician and, oil burner, mechanic and manager and those kinds of things after. I came back, the pull was still there, and I ended up, I came back. As soon as I got back home to Fort Smith, I started trapping again.
The Mercredi’s believe that living the trapping lifestyle is not just rooted in stubborn tradition, but has a place in the modern world for sustainability too.
All our food, or 90% of our food, we harvest ourselves, whether it’s buffalo, caribou, moose, you know, or chickens or rabbits or fish. And we also have our own garden. And as a matter of fact, today, you know, this is what March? We’re still eating our own from our own garden. We got vegetables, potatoes and carrots and those kinds of things that, you know, that saves us a lot.
The Northwest Territories have a strong history rooted in the trapping lifestyle and Richard says it’s important for youth to embrace the tradition.
Well, the important part of it is, especially for the youth, is to remember where we come from. The land is like a mother to us, it provides us with food, with shelter and with medicine. You know, there’s different things that people could use and it provides, also a very healthy lifestyle because you have to work when you’re out there, you have to cut wood and snowshoeing or walking in deep snow or whatever, eh? So it creates a healthy lifestyle.
– Richard Mercredi