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Annual haunted trail 'talk of the town' (5 photos)

It attracts hundreds of visitors

Using local resources, imagination and ingenuity, one family in Attawapiskat has been bringing Halloween spirit to the community for over a decade.

The Kamalatisit family in Attawapiskat First Nation has been hosting a haunted trail for the past 11 years, with hundreds of people attending.

“It’s pretty fun, the community looks forward to it every year. It’s the talk of the town,” said Sheldon Wesley.

Wesley is married to Judy, whose family has been putting together the attraction.

The haunted trail is usually held during two, sometimes three, weekends in October depending on the weather, manpower and the available material. They also open up a maze the last weekend.

The next haunted trail will be held Oct. 23-24.

“We use scare tactics and people’s phobias to our advantage,” Wesley said. “What’s scarier than being in the woods alone and being lost? You have ghouls, goblins, zombies popping out.”

The Kamalatisit family is a big, close-knit family with a strong bond, Wesley said.

“Bringing something to the community, making something out of nothing and making it work every year, putting in the effort really gives us hope. Working together makes us know that anything can happen, anything can be done,” he said.

Most of the costumes and props are handmade using local resources from the yard and rummage sales.

“Each night, there is no same costume that is worn. There are probably over 60 costumes, even more,” Wesley said.

Sometimes, they hand stitch costumes from popular movies like IT, The Conjuring or The Nun.

“We’ll copy a popular scene from a movie, and people will go wild over that,” Wesley said. “A lot of people in our community don’t have the means to travel or go to other places ... We try to bring this to the community as best as we can.”

Usually, it takes a week to set up the trail but the family has become “so good” at it that now it takes two or three days, according to Wesley.

The event started in a little shack in a backyard and was mainly created for the kids because at the time “there was nothing going on”, Wesley said.

The following year, the event was held in a larger shack.

In the third year, it was held on a trail on the outskirts of the community. The turnout was good but the walking distance to the trail was a little too far, Wesley said.

In 2014, the family created a manmade, newly cut trail closer to the community and within walking distance. Over the years, they have added on new trails.

“Each year, it was always different. Now, there are so many trails that each night is always different,” Wesley said.

There are two parts to the haunted trail. One is family-friendly for kids and youth that takes about 10 minutes to finish. They also receive a bag with candies and treats.

For the adults, it takes about 15-20 minutes. If there’s a maze, good luck finding the exit, Wesley joked.

“Some people we scare really good on the haunted trail, they never came back,” he said laughing.

The proceeds from holding the haunted trail go to various causes. One year, a portion of the proceeds went to sponsor the Kattawapiskak Elementary School Grade 8 trip.

Another time, a portion of the proceeds also went to support the immediate family of the late Rebecca Sutherland.

This year, the raised money will help purchase a headstone for Henry Kamalatisit, the head of the family, who passed away in June at the age of 92.

A few years ago, some Kashechewan community members came over just to attend the haunted trail, which was “really nice,” Wesley said.

“We had one individual who had a group and asked to make it really scary. And we delivered, and they really regretted it,” he said laughing.

Last year, over 80 per cent of the material used in the trail was burned in a fire. The community came together and donated the material for the trail, Wesley said.

“They wanted the trail to really happen. It was amazing,” he said.

The organizers plan to continue the tradition hoping the next generation will carry it on. The kids and youth are taught scare tactics and how to make costumes, according to Wesley.

“I personally like the smiles, the memories, the stories they share with each other and the laughter that comes with these stories. And seeing the youth being excited, their eyes light up,” Wesley said. “That’s all this is really worth it at the end.”


Dariya Baiguzhiyeva

About the Author: Dariya Baiguzhiyeva

Dariya Baiguzhiyeva is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering diversity issues for TimminsToday. The LJI is funded by the Government of Canada
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