Rainbow Coalition fish camp mixes tradition and education

Rainbow Coalition fish camp organizers at Joliffe Island in March 2019
Rainbow Coalition fish camp organizers at Joliffe Island in March 2019. Karine Beaulieu/Cabin Radio

Yellowknife’s Rainbow Coalition is running a week-long, free, educational fish camp off Joliffe Island on Yellowknife Bay.

Program coordinator Jiah Dzentu hopes the camp, from March 16-23, will be a “super unique experience” for people who come out, as local fisher Stephanie Vaillancourt helps participants set and check nets under the ice.

Vaillancourt has been net fishing for the past 10 years after learning the process – which involves a mechanism that grips the ice, a rope, a jigger, and a net spanning 50-100 ft – in Yellowknife and Hay River.

Attendees are also taught how to process fish for use at home, while kids get a free biology lesson. You can keep any fish caught.



“If they want, we can teach them how to make dry fish,” said Dzentu. “We have an Elder from Dettah working with us, or we can smoke it if they want – we have a little smoking area.”

A free lunch includes homemade vegetable soup from Dzentu, snacks are provided, and on some afternoons artist Charlotte Overvold teaches a workshop featuring fish scale art.

More information: Find out more about attending the fish camp



Overvold has been creating fish scale art for 10 years, after learning how to dye using bingo dabbers. “I use the fish ribs, the vertebra, the scales and I used to collect seeds,” she explained.

One of Saturday’s camp visitors, Leslie Croft, said: “We came not knowing anything and it’s wonderful. It’s a beautiful day out, it’s totally organized, it’s outside, and it’s easy to access.”

Karen Wood brought her son, Mark, out to the camp.

“He loves fishing so it’s right up his alley, and it’s great,” she said.

Dzentu wants people to come out and have a good time.

“I hope I can continue to put on these camps and give people the opportunity to come by and get bushed,” she said.