Gary Oker is one of the band members of Doig River First Nation. He says the event gives kids the opportunity to learn at a young age without using traditional in school methods.
“It’s a foundation. A lot of the young people don’t get to experience the real thing,” Oker explains. “They may read out of a book, or internet, or research, because in a classroom it is hard to lay it out in a real way. This gives them a real opportunity to explore, touch, feel and smell, all the senses required of learning. I believe that’s a natural way to learn”
Students observed or participated in a number of different practices over the morning. Some of the things they came across was the process of moose hide making from start to finish, making bannock, archaeological digs, trapping and processing of hides, drum making, as well as story telling.
Oker says it’s a good feeling to have a strong turn out for the event given the efforts put in to hosting the festivities.
“It’s very satisfying, because there is a lot of work that goes into the preparation of it,” he says. “Just to have the young people learn in the interactive and outdoorsy [atmosphere]. It’s very exciting and inspiring.”
David Suzuki was also at this year’s Doig Days event. He says it’s great to see people coming together to gain information about the history of First Nations.
“What a wonderful thing this is that for years now, the non Native people have been coming with the Native people to see what the Doig culture is all about,” says Suzuki. “But I think for the Doig kids themselves, what a great chance for them to feel proud about themselves, feel proud about the land, I think it’s a great idea.”
One of the reasons Suzuki was at the event had to do with the setting aside of the tribal park. He expressed his gratitude, saying there are things more important than dollars and cents.
“I really came to celebrate and thank the Doig people for setting aside the tribal park. I’m here to thank the people for deciding to set this aside, because it’s informing us that there are things far more important than money. The opposition to the Northern pipeline by 100 percent of Coastal First Nations is telling us there is things more important than money.”
Overall, over 500 hundred students attended this year’s Doig Days event.