The National Outfitters Hunting and Fishing show had three Cree booths this year. On hand were Osprey Excursions, Cree Outfitting and Tourism Association (COTA) and the Cree Nation of Mistissini tourism people. They had a great presence at a show where reputation is everything.
Elijah Awashish, co-owner,
The Nation: So how is Osprey doing this year?
Awashish: Things are looking very good. I’ve had a lot of exposure this past month on television.
You won several awards last year – was the exposure on TV from that?
It was a combination of that and doing different TV shows. They’ve aired just recently so it’s fresh on people’s minds when they come here. They tell us they just saw us on TV.
What shows have been on Osprey?
This past year we’ve been on mainly francophone shows like Canal des vache and Mondiale de pêche. There’ll be an English version soon on ESPN. We have another one with Norman Byrnes that’s also a French show.
Did anyone break any records in these shows?
Yes, Norm broke a record with a nice speckled trout of about five or so pounds. It was caught while on camera. But yes, we’re very pleased with turnout here at the show.
How many clients did you sign up?
Well, people don’t tend to sign up here at the show. We’ll get calls later on this week. They have to call friends and organize the trip type of thing. You’re looking at fishing trips of four to eight people so it needs a bit of coordination.
Are these shows worth it for a Cree outfitter?
Yes, you can’t do without them. You have to be present to make things happen.
Osprey has an award-winning lodge that offers a dining room with a great view and a multi-purpose mezzanine (pool and card tables, conference room, cigar-room facility and balcony). The camp has log cabins facing the lake. Each cabin has cold running water, four single beds and a dining set in a well-equipped kitchen. I found this to be one of the benefits of choosing Osprey the last time I was there. As well the propane full-size stove and refrigerator made life easier in the great outdoors. For heating there is a wood stove that was used a couple of nights. We are talking about the true north, strong and occasionally chilly. The guides are good and know the lake well.
Paul Diamond, Product and Development Officer, COTA
Paul Diamond’s 10-year-old son Isiah was also there and Diamond joked about him being the youngest employee of COTA.
The Nation: So how did the weekend go?
Diamond: The first few days were pretty busy and today’s fine. We had 300 visitors yesterday and 150 today.
It’s caribou season now?
It’s finishing right now on February 15. Fishing is June 1 to September 7. Partridge hunting is from September 1 to April 30. August 1 to December 30 for the brown partridge.
We have a lot of people talking about the hunting down south. You have some Crees going to places like Cornwall, Ontario.
In the fields, I guess they are pretty bad in the fields.
Do you see a time when non-Natives will come up north to hunt with the Crees and vice versa?
That might be invading their privacy. Most Natives spend their time in the bush hunting geese on their own with their families. So hunting geese this way might be like an invasion. We have this two-week holiday when we close down the offices and the schools to go geese hunting.
Has COTA ever thought of organizing a trip down south for the Crees to hunt geese?
That would be interesting but we’re not really promoters for Crees hunting and fishing but rather for Cree fishing and hunting outfitters.
If I started up a project like that would you support or sponsor me?
I’d bring my gun with me at least.
Titus Shecapio, Tourism Officer,
Cree Nation of Mistissini
How many camps are there up in Mistissini?
Well, there’s Osprey, which operates two camps. Then there’s Awashish Outfitters and Louis Joiliett. We’re promoting all of them at the same time.
So have you gotten a lot of interest in Mistissini?
Yes, we have received a lot of interest during this show and a lot before.
What do you think of these shows?
They’re a good way to interact with potential clients. It’s great that a lot of people came to the show and we had a chance to interact with them. They’ve really enjoyed looking at what we have to offer.
I know Mistissini is a dream for a lot of fishermen.
Of course, it’s because it’s the ultimate experience. All Mistissini Crees know this whenever we go anywhere.