‘It’s good to take care of our culture’: 8 year-old Ocean O’Reilly is learning her place in nature

While on her medicine walk with her uncle Gary Oker on the Doig River First Nation in northern B.C., Ocean O’Reilly, stares down at the ground asking questions about everything she sees.

“I really like it because I just also really care about nature.” said the eight-year old O’Reilley while collecting chicken feathers.

Every year the community camps in the back country of the First Nation to reconnect back to their land.

It’s a chance of tradition and teachings of the Beaver People to be passed on to youth like O’Reilley.

“It’s good to take care of our culture and stuff so that’s why I always collect feathers,” she said.

(“I really like it because I just also really care about nature.” says Ocean O’Reilly. Photo: Tamara Pimentel/APTN)

Every step she took, she questioned how to live off different parts of the land.

She learned that moss can be used to filtering water and rotting wood is used to make hides.

O’Reilly gathers as much as she could and takes it back to the camping area to share.

At the camp, signs in the Beaver Language indicate where the kitchen and hand-washing stations are.

And where children make their own hunting tools by hand.

“A bush school, is very important piece of growing up as a young person. “Oker said, who is also a councillor of the Doig River First Nation.

“Also for the Elders to transmit their knowledge and history of the bush life.”

(Every year the community camps in the back country of the First Nation to reconnect back to their land. Photo: Tamara Pimentel/APTN)

Elder May Apsassin is a fluent speaker of the Beaver language.

She made many memories at this site.

These grounds have been camped on for generations.

“I’m very happy to see my young people live up here and sleep out, eat and the fire going a teepee. It’s very good.” Apsassin said.

“They live in the bush once in a while like this, take their kids out, teach them how our great grandpa and grandma used to do.”

In the evening a fire is lit and a Tea Dance is performed.

Oker said it’s a time where stories and songs of the Beaver People are passed down and honored.

“Here’s where the transmission of languages, the root of being who we are as Dene People, the Dane Zaa People.”

 

 

Video Journalist / Calgary

Tamara is Métis from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She received a diploma in interactive media arts at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon and has worked as a videographer for CBC in Winnipeg and Iqaluit. Tamara was hired by APTN in 2016 as a camera/editor and is now a video journalist in our Calgary bureau.