Love of birds and language help nature and culture in Kingston  


Mandy Wilson enjoys sharing her love of birds.  Wilson is the coordinator at the Kingston Indigenous Languages Nest in Kingston, Ont., a couple of hours drive east of Toronto.

Every week she offers programs for Indigenous youth in the community – about birds and the Anishinaabemowin language.

“When you’re learning the language in that environment you get to feel the language and kind of like, see that impact and you get to observe all the way to our ancestors and you know the way that they describe things, which is just really nice,” she said.

The small group of enthusiasts learned to sing a song about birds called Gijigijigaaneshiinh, while mixing suet balls together with honey, peanut butter, nuts and popcorn.

Language nest
Mandy Wilson, program coordinator, and Tristram Pilon work at the language nest. Photo: Annette Francis/APTN.

They also strung together an assortment of fruit garlands to hang in trees for the birds.

“We’re doing this in a way to kind of give back to the birds that spend their entire year, you know taking seeds from place to place and planting all of these amazing plants that we get to benefit from that we get to look at, that we get to harvest, that we get to smell all the pretty flowers” Wilson said.

According to Wilson, there are plenty of treats for everyone.

“The squash is really, really good for the deer, the birds will love the popcorn, the birds will also eat some apples,” she said. “It gives them some extra sugar as well and then we also try to include things like starch because birds and animals need a lot of starch throughout the winter so that’s why we’ve got the pasta here and then we’ve got nuts, nuts of course as a source of protein and we kind of like mix things all together.”

It’s the first time that Ethan Narvey and Tristram Pilon have had the opportunity to create their own feeders.

Language nest
Ingredients for suet balls at the language nest. Photo: Annette Francis/APTN.

Narvey created a fruit garland.

“I added popcorn, apples and both the different squashes, that they had and blueberries”, he said.

Afterwards they placed a few outside, in some trees and along the trail outside the Languages Nest.