First-time fishers learn tricks of the trade thanks to Africa Centre programming

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A supervisor gets bait on a line for a child learning to fish for the first time in Edmonton on Saturday. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC - image credit)
A supervisor gets bait on a line for a child learning to fish for the first time in Edmonton on Saturday. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC - image credit)

Africa Centre's mentorship program spent Saturday afternoon at Hermitage Park in Edmonton teaching youth who have never fished before how to drop a line, bait a hook, and what to do with a fish out of water.

The centre teamed up with Alberta Conservation Association for the event and involved kids from ages 7-16.

For Esmahan Abdallah it was more about life lessons for her kids than fishing.

"One of the main reasons I wanted them to learn was fishing teaches you patience," she said.

"With this generation, they're always on the go, so it was really nice to see them today being enthusiastic, learning the safety, being patient, respecting someone else's space, so it's been great."

Abdallah added it was a good way to get her kids out and about after a year of staying close to home.

"We've done online school for the whole year and it's nice for them to see other kids."

The event was free, something Abdallah said was great because it gives kids from a marginalized community the opportunity to get outside and learn a skill with other children. That's not accessible to everyone because of the price of some summer camps, she said.

Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC
Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC

Bahaa Ismail attended the event.

"I loved it because the teachers helped us when we didn't know how to," she said.

Would she fish again?

"Yeah," she said. "Lots of times. This day has been really nice."

Tawa Nzekwu, mentorship and leadership coordinator for Africa Centre, said more people turned out than she originally thought.

"I've seen an extraordinary success," she said. "I'm really pleased. I'm happy."

"When the idea first came up, I was like, 'Fishing event … personally, I don't know how to fish' and [what would] parents think of this?" she said. She was also worried about the weather, but people turned out despite it.

More than 50 kids were able to participate, and there were around 20 on a waitlist, so Nzekwu struck gold with the idea.

"It's been fun all the way."

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