September 15, 2018
Shaun Meehan - Vice President, Aylmer District Trapper’s Council
National Hunting, Trapping, and Fishing Heritage Day response:
Primarily, I would like to wish everyone a happy National Hunting, Trapping, and Fishing Heritage Day. What an achievement it is to have a nationally recognized day to celebrate these traditions which define who so many of us are, and I am glad that the Aylmer District Trapper’s Council has a platform by which we can celebrate in unison with so many other organizations and individuals.
Unlike so many trappers, I did not experience trapping as a youth. I come from a line of hunters, the most immediate being my father who would ride the rails into Northern Ontario to hunt moose, and a Grandfather who was fortunate enough to survive a bear charge, harvest that bear, and live to tell the tale, though neither trapped fur. So, my answer to “What does the trapping heritage mean to me?” is not one of family tradition or of fond memories of time spent with passed relatives, but instead one of universal truth bridging all human life. Regardless of race, religion, language or landscape, all human life shares in common a past deeply rooted in the natural world and dependence on our environment. We, as a race and regardless of whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, are a part of our natural world rather than apart from it. Whether we are eating wild harvested food or wearing wild caught fur, we are embracing this universal heritage and our dependence on these sustainably harvested resources for consumptive use has developed within us and our culture, a unique drive to protect and conserve these resources not just for the benefit of ourselves but for the benefit of future generations and those resources themselves.
In straying from this dependence and shifting from active participant to mere observer, the majority of humankind has forgotten its role within nature. They have grown dependent on non-sustainable, non-renewable resources, polluted our water with plastic and our air with emissions, laid waste to habitat and condemned biodiversity, all of which has put into motion the gears of climate change. It is at the expense of these things that civilization now chases the next generation of iPhone, the dream of having a larger or better home than their neighbour, or any other expression of monetary wealth deemed as a measure of success in life. Yet, here we stand, hunters, trappers, and anglers, firmly rooted in the history of humankind, celebrating and protecting our heritage much as Theodore Roosevelt did when he dreamt of what would become the North American Conservation Model.
In closing and to answer the question with a little more brevity, “What does the trapping heritage mean to me?”. This heritage means everything. This heritage is everything it means to be human and an active participant in our natural world, and only by dependence on our natural resources as this heritage dictates we must have, will future generations of humankind as well as our environment and all of its other inhabitants live on to thrive.