From colourful fall leaves to seemingly mundane rocks, children took what nature provides to make Thanksgiving cards for family and friends following a walk in the forest with Métis elder Greg Sterling on Sunday, Oct 2.
The children were among the participants in a two-day weekend camp hosted by the Quesnel Tillicum Society Friendship Centre at Pioneer Park, south of Quesnel.
Indigenous elders helped facilitate various cultural crafts, games and workshops open to everyone wanting to learn while having fun.
“With the First Nations, that is very much what they do —they love to connect with nature, and I’m also a supporter of it,” said early childhood years coordinator Debbie Lojstrum as children gathered under a tent to make their cards. “I just believe when you’re in nature, that’s just the best place to be.”
During the short nature walk, Sterling explained what some of the plants, materials and objects were, if they were edible, and their purposes.
As the children made their cards, elders gathered around a fire sharing stories and laughs.
A lunch of bannock, rice and moose stew was made by Andrea Beaulieu and Yvonne Reimer, who had made salmon and other traditional foods the previous day.
Over the weekend day camp, children and adults also learned how to flesh a deer hide by Perry Alexander of Tl’etinqox. In addition, Nazko elder Doreen Patrick shared spiritual teachings, prayers and smudging, with Dee Howse providing a workshop on bridging and nurturing the relationship between elders and youth.
There were other numerous activities, music and games, such as traditional spoon playing, lahal by Sheila Gilpin, bingo, musical hoops, traditional storytelling in a teepee and making pitch salve.
“Yesterday [Saturday], I found my heart was full by the end of the day,” Lojstrum said. “There was a lot of talking and sharing. The children were involved in a game of lahal, which I had never played, so it was incredible to see the elders and children down to maybe five years old playing.”
Youth outreach Dorine Greene noted the multi-generational households in attendance as well as community members wanting to learn more.
She called the two-day culture day camp joyful, peaceful and reminiscent amid the sharing of knowledge.
“For me, that piece is special because of the field of work that we’re in at the friendship centre,” Greene said. “Not everyone at the Friendship Centre has Indigenous heritage, so we’re connecting with the wisdom of the local Indigenous culture to take into our lives and into consideration when we’re working with our Indigenous clients. I always feel so much more competent when I’ve sat with an elder or a group of elders and listened to them share their stories and wisdom.”
Employment coordinator Kathy Canuel said there were many discussions on homelessness and addictions earlier in the morning, noting it was interesting to hear everyone’s perspective and potential solutions.
Before the culture camp wrapped up late Sunday afternoon, Canuel thanked everyone who helped make the funding-dependent camp possible, including Quesnel Tillicum Society Friendship Centre staff, community partners, and facilitators. Leo Stillas was also thanked for providing transportation from the Quesnel Tillicum Society Friendship Centre to Pioneer Park.
A culture camp was hosted earlier this past summer at Gavin Lake.
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