June is National Indigenous History Month. As part of our celebration, we’re featuring the perspectives of Georgian students and employees of Indigenous ancestry all month long.
What’s your story?
The Georgian community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives —and we’re sharing them as part of an ongoing series.
People of Georgian: Meet Andrew Cywink
My dad and I go on an annual moose hunt. We started doing it in the last 15 years, and it’s become a big part of my life.
We scout the areas ahead of time where we want to go. From an Indigenous perspective, we stay in our treaty area – from the French River to the watershed south of Timmins. I grew up in Elliot Lake so we focus on that area.
We’re usually out for five days total. If we’re lucky, we might get one moose on Day 3, and then we spend the rest of the time processing everything.
The hunting is the easy part. It’s the field dressing and preparing the meat afterward that can be a bit of a grueling process.
We put down tobacco to thank the animal and honour its spirit before doing the field dressing, which is removing its entrails.
It’s a lot of work. If you shoot one in the morning it’s not so bad, but if it’s 5 p.m. or 6 p.m., it’s a rush to get it done before dark.
‘She makes moose meat lasagna with homemade noodles and everything. It’s so good’
We don’t camp because my parents still live in that area, so it’s nice for me to visit them, and I get home-cooked meals from my mom.
Her big meal is lasagna; it’s my favourite. She makes moose meat lasagna with homemade noodles and everything. It’s so good.
The moose meat from our hunt is split between my parents and my family. We also typically give some away to people we know who will appreciate it or for ceremony.
It’s nice to spend time with my dad out in the bush.
We used to go fishing a lot when I was younger.
Our reservation is Whitefish River First Nation, which is located between Espanola and Manitoulin.
In the summertime we used to go fishing in the North Channel quite a bit, which is between Manitoulin and the mainland.
‘To have my parents tell me how important education is really made the difference for me’
My parents were really good at opening up the world to me.
They said, “you can do anything you want, go anywhere you want.”
Right now, we’re all talking about residential schools and how they affected people’s views of the education system. Mine was different because I was told to go get an education.
My grandfather passed away in 2000 and that was one of the last things he said to me, to stay in school.
I might’ve taken it to heart because I’m working in the sector 21 years later, but it was good to hear those things.
To have my parents tell me how important education is really made the difference for me.
Andrew also wants to give a shout-out to Georgian’s Indigenous Services for the wonderful work they do.