Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Kids clean teeth, fix toilets

All part of camp for aboriginal children at Red River College

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Triplets (from left) Graeme, Gabe and Andrew Perrie learn about plumbing from instructor Dwaine Gautier.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Triplets (from left) Graeme, Gabe and Andrew Perrie learn about plumbing from instructor Dwaine Gautier. Photo Store

Summer camp has these kids flushed with excitement -- they're learning how to fix toilets.

Or help an injured animal, or how to clean teeth, or how to shoot cool photographs.

"This is the only camp we've been to that has this kind of stuff," said Gabe Perrie, entering Grade 6 at Stonewall Centennial School.

Red River College is hosting the HAWK camp -- Hands-on Activities Week for Kids -- in which 14 aboriginal children aged 11 to 13 experience the trades that might be their future careers.

'This is the only camp we've been to that has this kind of stuff'

-- Gabe Perrie, entering Grade 6 at Stonewall Centennial School

Ryley Smith didn't think Thursday afternoon's session in the plumbing lab would be much fun, but soon changed his mind after the kids and their instructors cut, welded and tested pipes -- oops, a soaker -- to see if they were watertight.

"Things that didn't seem like fun, can be fun. It's entertaining to see how things go together," said Ryley, going into Grade 9 at Nelson McIntyre Collegiate. "I'm able to learn by doing hands-on activities."

Lisa Carriere, the HAWK camp co-ordinator, said the week is "to introduce them to an array of academic activities and build their confidence," while also providing the kids with exposure to aboriginal traditions.

They've had sessions this week in the plumbing, photography, dental assistant and animal-health technology courses Red River teaches, said Carriere, whose full-time job is with aboriginal student support and community services.

"So far, I've liked dentistry," said Tanya Marquis, who's going into Grade 7 at St. John's High School in the fall.

"I just like knowing what's inside my mouth," she said with a laugh.

Like most of us, Tanya knew only the most basic rudiments of plumbing before seeing Thursday afternoon how all the pipes, tubes and water systems connect: "I knew things went through pipes," she said.

Gabe said he got involved after his mother saw a promotion for the camp. "There were people like making light bulbs and tool boxes," he said. "They kind of give you an idea of what college looks like. I might do plumbing, if my toilet breaks down or something."

But, Gabe emphasized, "I've wanted to be a photographer for a long time. I would really like to take pictures across the world."

Ryley said he volunteers to help his aunt at the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. "I'm thinking about becoming a vet," he said. "I could take in wild animals."

Jaime Richard, the camp's aboriginal liaison adviser, pointed out the kids also spend time at the school's medicine wheel garden, a hub of indigenous culture and religion.

Carriere said Red River College covers the costs through fundraising. There is hope for a second HAWK camp at the college's Portage la Prairie campus and additional weeks on the Notre Dame campus could be a future possibility.

Another out-of-the-ordinary Red River College summer camp, the culinary arts camp for kids, has been so popular it has shot from one week to five one-week sessions this summer.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 11, 2014 A2

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