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DOIG RIVER, B.C. — From Doig Day to the Kema Experience, 2022 featured the return of cultural events for Doig River First Nation. 

Cultural and social events have a massive place in Doig River First Nation traditions.

After two years of restrictions, 2022 brought relief and joy to the First Nation with the return of cultural events. 

Doig Day Celebration

Doig Day is dedicated to showcasing the Doig River First Nation heritage for School District 60 students.

The event returned to the First Nation in May after a three-year hiatus.

During the day, students engage in various practices like an archaeological dig, drumming, dancing, and more.

Meat being hung to dry at Doig Days 2022. (Jenna Morland)

Doig River First Nation Councillor Garry Oker says the day’s activities focus on sharing the First Nation’s culture with younger generations to give them a different perspective of Dane-zaa and its traditions. 

The district has been making the trip to Doig River for over 20 years.

Oker says, “Doig Day was established to combat racism.”

He says the only way to tackle racism is to be inclusive and show your values to other communities,

Doig Day has become a collective cultural identity of the City of Fort St. John. Oker notes that Doig’s events aim to unite communities through cultural experiences. 

The First Nation plans on expanding the event in the future to work with more school districts.

National Indigenous Day

With the support of the City of Fort St. John, Doig River First Nation marked the unveiling of their new urban reserve on National Indigenous day.

For Oker, this is key to the reconciliation process for First Nation communities. 

Chief Trevor Makadahay (Shailynn Foster)

“To remember our ancestors also means to make efforts to improve our future,” said Oker. 

Doig River Chief Trevor Makadahay says getting a new urban reserve on National Indigenous day is symbolic for the First Nation people.

The new urban reserve will provide the cultural and economic space for the First Nation community to participate in mainstream economic development.

Oker adds that the new urban reserve represents an opportunity to build long-term relations with the City of Fort St. John.

Kema Experience

Doig River production manager Levi Davis and Councillor Garry Oker led an initiative to experience the kema.

Kema means “a pure place in nature,” said Oker.

Kema Experience
Community members taking part in the Kema Experience (supplied)

The event was a unique opportunity for the industrial and commercial partners of Doig River to experience the Dane-zaa’s connection with the wilderness. 

Oker said the Kema Experience creates a cultural space where deeper meanings and long-lasting relationships are built between Doig River and its commercial partners.

Mike Bull from Mountainview Safety Services, who attended the event, says if more people and communities experience these events, racism won’t exist in society. 

The motivation behind the Kema Experience is Dane-zaa traditional art, Oker notes. 

“When we are experiencing a crisis in the community, the elders used to say, go find kema.”

Oker says kema is an exercise developed to channel people’s true selves by being immersed in nature.

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My name is Manavpreet Singh, and I was born and raised in Panjab. I came to Canada as an International student and studied at SFU. I learned the discourse on media and how it is not merely a tool for news but a powerful technology where reason triumphs the passion. My passion is reading philosophical texts, and I am particularly interested in understanding technology and its impact on colonialism. I will be covering stories coming out of Indigenous communities and trying to explore their language...