The Wikwemikong First Nation, located on Manitoulin Island hosts one of the largest fishing derbies in the region. Manitoulin is the largest fresh water island in the world and is located at the top of Lake Huron. This year, Wikwemikong hosted its ninth annual derby on January 11, 2017 and had 440 participants from all over the province of Ontario, and beyond, all vying for over $30 000 in cash and prizes.
Instead of a fishing rod, I grabbed my camera gear and photographed the event.
The slushy conditions made it a chore to walk around, but this gave me a good excuse to stop and chat a little longer with both friends and strangers. After photographing a couple of participants that I knew, I suddenly heard a booming female voice yell, "Hey, you can come into my hut and photograph me!". Well, that's an invitation that a photographer can't resist!
I took off my camera backpack, and squeezed through the narrow opening of her ice hut and was greeted with the amazing smell of a first class breakfast cooking - bacon, sausage and pancakes, all being prepared on a small two-burner stove.
"You're that photographer guy on Facebook." (I get that a lot.)
"Yup, that's me."
Her name was Joni Shawana, from Wikwemikong, and it turned out we had a personal connection. It didn't take long before I found out that she was related to two of my former (and favourite) students from many years ago.
The competition ended at noon. Everyone then headed to the gymnasium of the Wikwemikong High School for a great fish dinner and the awarding of the prizes.
The Wikwemikong Fish Derby is a great draw for tourists and locals alike. The proceeds from the event go to support Wikwemikong Tourism and the development and delivery of other events throughout the year. Next year's 10th anniversary is guaranteed to be the biggest one yet. I'm hoping for equally mild weather so that my trigger finger doesn't freeze.