The AWAKE Cultural Camp Series is a local initiative founded by two Fort McKay residents and business leaders: Mel Grandjamb and Chris Wilson. Recognizing the scarcity of traditional roots, the two developed a plan to bring it back the best way they know: through hands-on training in the wilderness. The primary goal is to preserve traditional hunting, fishing, and trapping ways of life and to keep native culture alive. Tradition remains an important way of life for Mel and Chris, and they look forward to passing along their skills and knowledge to others.
The inspiration behind these camps started more than 20 years ago when Mel was Chief of the Fort McKay First Nation. Born and raised in Fort McKay, he knew his community before the oil sands industry emerged. A time when traditional practices and living off the land was a way of life. As Chief he facilitated his first cultural camp in 1994 to teach youth core hunting and gathering skills, and inspire them to keep their traditions alive. A young boy at the time, Chris was a participant of the camp and remembers those days fondly. He is now a successful entrepreneur but his community, culture, and love for the outdoors remain an important part of his life.
As founder, president and CEO of the Tuccaro Group, Dave is a successful entrepreneur and proud supporter of community, educational and Aboriginal development. He is also a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation in Fort Chipewyan, and recognizes the importance of programs such as AWAKE that preserve and promote traditional ways of life.