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Grist Haven Camp

The Camp

The Grist Haven Youth Camp is geared towards Janvier and Conklin youth ages 13 to 17. Each year we have had approximately 50 youth, 8 adult chaperones, 4 junior leaders and 2 elders.

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The Grist Haven Youth Camp enables our youth and elders to gain an understanding and awareness of what the future holds as well an awareness of the importance of native culture. Our daily lives have changed so drastically that our youth cannot seem to catch up with these changes. This in turn leads to loss of self-esteem and loss of identity, which in turn leads to alcohol abuse and family violence. This camp endeavors to bridge the gap between our elders and our youth.


John Cardinal, NNADAP worker for Chipewyan Prairie First Nation, organized the first Grist lake Youth Camp in 1996. His success was built upon and the second Annual Youth Camp was held at Engstrom lake. This camp involved all five First Nations, Anzac, Conklin and Fort McMurray. We had 120 youth and 8 elders. The third, fourth and fifth Annual Youth Camps were again held at Grist Haven lodge and organized by Betty Sparkes (Kennedy).


To provide a fun, safe, loving, culturally appropriate environment for our children.
To utilize the wisdom and knowledge of our elders to teach as was their traditional role.
To assist our children to develop their native heritage and pride through the teachings of traditional spirituality, storytelling, arts
and crafts, social structures – hunter/gatherers, social activities.
To expose our children to skills and activities to enhance self- development.

Camp Sponsors

Contributors for the Youth Camp (descending in order of contribution) were Syncrude, Suncor, Shell, PanCanadian, Petro Canada, Dene Healing Society, Japan Canada, Chipewyan Prairie First Nation, Northern Dene Enterprises, Tron Power, ALPAC, Canadian Natural Resources, Gulf Canada, Alberta Energy Company, Millar Western, C.P. Services Ltd., Carrier lumber and DMJ Enterprises with total donation equaling $26,900. Without you this camp would not have been possible! Many Thanks!

Our Approach

We need to break the chains and start to rebuild a new future for our self-worth and for stronger communities. Today’s youth experience many social problems such as solvent, alcohol, drug, physical and sexual abuse, also a loss of identity and respect (traditionally and spiritually) and because of this, our youth are losing their native identity and culture. There is a need for our elders to help our youth by speaking of experiences and teach how we can broaden our future by becoming spiritually strong.

Grist Lake

Grist Lake is a clean remote lake with lots of trout and a beach for swimming. The lake is approximately 82 southeast of Conklin. The camping area is grassy and large enough to house tents and teepees. There are cabins that will house 56 of our campers. The site is on the north side of the lake at the Grist lake lodge. There is lots of bush for walks and hikes. The area is far enough away from civilization that unplanned field trips by some-of our youth have not been a problem.

We employ the summer students in the setting up, operating and taking down of the camp. The students work a minimum of 40 hours for the week. There is a representative elder from each community. These elders are teachers, not supervisors. They are onsite for the week and their undying support and hard labor is dually recognized.

Camp Operation

Four junior leaders are assistant supervisors of the groups. These junior leaders are involved in training for their positions before the start of the camp. Chipewyan Prairie First Nation provides transportation for the Janvier youth and the Conklin Community Association for the Conklin youth. Many parents also volunteer for the fun job of roughing the road to Grist lake. With a little rain, the road becomes slightly treacherous. There is often a need to rent or borrow a 4×4 truck for transportation of equipment and supplies.


Many dedicated and talented elders, volunteers, and staff made this camp a huge success for 2000. They include:

Walter Janvier – Chief
Harry Janvier – Elder
John Cardinal – Elder’s Assistant
Laurette Herman – Head Cook
Teresa Janvier – Cooks Assistant
Leona Berard – Group Leader
Darlene Herman – Group Leader
Wesley Larocque – Group Leader
Rodney Janvier – Group Leader
Angie Cardinal – Junior Leader
Kim Janvier -Junior Leader
Bonnie McDonald – Junior Leader
Chantelle Janvier – Junior Leader
Kirby Black – Junior Leader/Camp Helper
Conrad Black – Junior Leader/Camp Helper
Wade Janvier ~ Junior Leader/Camp Helper
Betty Janvier – Camp Nurse
Leah Tremblay – Group Leader
Armie Tremblay – Junior Leader
Candice Tremblay – Junior Leader
Grist Haven Lodge Staff