Many people and organizations are creating programs to teach youth and even older people who may not have been taught their culture, about traditional ways of their ancestors.
The country is providing funding to culture-based organizations to provide cultural and land-based teachings as it’s becoming more apparent that culture is important for Indigenous people.
“A lot of people are losing their culture, the Cree culture,” said Senator Myles Venne School recreation and culture coordinator Charlie Cook Jr. The Lac la Ronge Indian Band school runs culture days, a program designed to connect people with culture.
“It’s always nice for people to learn a new culture, that is why I took interest in this program and I know my parents and my sister love to share their knowledge with our culture and I just thought it was the perfect opportunity for people to learn how to make gauntlets and little beaded items, just a starter.”
The program teaches people how to make gauntlets, a glove made out of animal hide that is very warm during winter, and how to make bugle beaded dream catchers. Because of Covid-19 Cook Jr. is recording the teachings and putting them on YouTube for participants to watch safely from their home. All of the materials are provided to participants as well.
SMVS also has programming that teaches youth about traditional lifestyle.
“We do culture camps every year with Cree culture teachers.” Said Cook Jr. “And they go to the youth haven for culture programs, they learn how to snare rabbits, prep fish, and a bunch of other cultural, Cree culture… lifestyle I suppose you can call it.”
The benefits of outdoor activities such as hunting, trapping, fishing go beyond learning about a traditional lifestyle as being surrounded by nature has been proven to be relaxing and beneficial for physical as well as mental health. Wild food has not been overly processed nor does it have any additives, which provides people with a chance of eating organic meats without the hefty price tag. It can also teach youth about how much work went into providing food before a trip to the grocery store became the norm. And having a relationship with the land and with animals can provide respect for wildlife, which could lead to youth being less , likely to damage property that isn’t theirs.
Having a relationship with the land isn’t just an Indigenous thing, humans in general have had a relationship with the earth since our conception. The good news is that SMVS programming is open to everyone, whether you’re a band member or just someone who takes an interest in what they offer.
As its name suggests, culture days focus on culture, and there is belief that participants will walk away from this year’s program with more interest in culture.
“I think they’ll take a new interest (in culture), especially the ones making the items,” said Cook Jr. “Like, they’ll be closer to culture, they’ll learn new things where they can be proud of where it comes from a Cree culture teacher, my moms made so many sets of mitts, she loves to share her knowledge.”
Cook Jr. hopes to get more cultural programming to the school and the community as he likes to focus on cultural programming a little bit more than recreation as the school’s recreation coordinator.
“I really like to focus on the cultural aspect to get people to know our culture, because a lot of people are losing it,” said Cook Jr. “Just to keep it alive and thriving.”
The culture days videos are on YouTube under the channel name charlie cook.