‘It’s our roots’: Beaver camp deep in the woods takes young people off their phones and puts them in the wild

In the backcountry of the Doig River First Nation in Northern British Columbia, is a sacred place where the ancestors of the Beaver People camped and hunted.

Friends and family of the community have carried on that tradition for as long as anyone could remember.

Every May long weekend, they camp in the very spot their ancestors did to pass their knowledge down to the youth.

The Beaver camp is a place where youth gather around to listen to an Elder’s story, practice archery and create their own tools such as slingshots.

(Trystan Johnson (right) Holds up beaver pelt. Photo: Tamara Pimentel/APTN)

It’s a place away from the technology and social media.

“So much kids are so used to being on their phones and they don’t know how important it is,” 13-year-old Trystan Johnson said, as he began to skin a beaver caught nearby.

“It’s important that we learn this because once it’s gone, it can never be re-taught or brought back.”


(Doig River First Nation youth practicing archery at Beaver Camp. Photo: Tamara Pimentel/APTN)

He uses traditional tools like deer or elk bone.

Hunting, trapping and skinning are just a few of many skills taught at the Beaver camp.

“It’s our roots, this is where we came from. This is where we will stay and this is our life” Johnston said.

“It makes us who we are and it makes us pure and it makes us Indigenous, Aboriginal Peoples.”


(Ernie Napoleon (Right) helps set a beaver trap. Photo: Tamara Pimentel/APTN)

Down the road from the camp, Ernie Napoleon teaches the young people how to set beaver traps.

Using shaved willow as bait, the trap is set in the beavers’ path.

“They just have to learn some things that we learned in the past”, Napoleon said.

“In the future we won’t be around.”


(Children of Doig River First Nation listening to an Elder’s story. Photo: Tamara Pimentel/APTN)

Napoleon said it’s an important skill to know for the tough times ahead.

“There’s going to be hard times yet. It’s not going to be easy.

“Right now they don’t know anything about things like this and it’s time to learn,” he said.

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