It was a time to get together, to remember, to share and to pass on…
From Nov. 7 – 9, Nak’azdli Whuten’s Alternate Justice Centre in partnership with “Weaving our Way” (WOW) held a Traditional Practices Workshop at Kwah Hall in Fort St. James.
According to the Alternate Justice Centre, the workshop allowed a unique opportunity for the community and surrounding communities to learn about traditions and culture directly from elders.
“Our goal is to gather traditional practices, protocols and legends that allow us to accurately pass on our culture to our children and future generation,” said Karla Olinek from the Nak’azdli Alternate Justice Centre.
“This is to help us understand our traditional practices. We have lost a lot of our knowledge so we want to clarify it,”Olinek said.
For Olinek and Lynne Leon from “Weaving Our Way”, this has been a long awaited project in the making.
“We’ve been talking about this for ages,” Leon said.
To be able to bring elders together from all over, it’s been a roaring success. And we and the community have learned so much.”
Though out the workshop, elders shared many stories.
The oral tradition is something not to be left behind according to one elder, Peggy West.
“Our history is so rich,” West said. “I encourage people to hold on to their stories and pass them on. You can be a powerful leader of your past.”
“And Nak’azdli has had many strong leaders,” West said.
The workshop was filled with guest speakers who spoke about: traditional medicines, legends, traditional justice including shaming and banishment, the potlatch system and wake and funeral observances.
Community members were allowed to ask questions and certain periods were set to personally, “ask an elder.”
A definite highlight included a traditional meal of moose meat cooked and served by “Men of the North”.
“They stepped right up for the community. It was an amazing treat,” said Shannon Rivard, from the Alternate Justice Centre.
All in all, it’s all about today’s youth for many of the elders and those present.
“It’s about empowering the younger generation, our clans and our community,” Olinek said.
“This helps confirm what belongs to us, to ground ourselves and give us a sense of belonging.”