A new hands-on, cross-cultural experience is aiming to root residents back to the land and learn more about indigenous history and tradition in the B.C. Peace.
Kema Experiences debuted at Beatton Provincial Park July 12 to 14, and is scheduled for Swan Lake Provincial Park August 9 to 11. The event is partnership between Doig River First Nation and BC Parks after years of discussions about reconciliation and increasing indigenous visibility in the region.
"We know these lands are Treaty 8 territory," said ranger Lisa Hardy. "Most BC parks are located in a place that we know First Nations would have lived off of near the water. To us this is a part of reconciliation. This is bringing the nation back to the land base where we knew they were."
Last weekend, visitors to Beatton park took in a number exhibits showcasing indigenous art, clothing, and languages, took part in painting parties, were treated to music and drumming, and had a chance to take in interactive media exhibits. They also got to enjoy soup and bannock, and learned about local artefacts, the history of Treaty 8, how to bead, and more.
Doig River councillor Garry Oker called the event a "historical moment."
“Kema means a pure place in nature. That’s where you feel rooted, connected, transformed, and energized. By the time you leave, you should be dancing," Oker said.
"Our ancestors have been living all around this lake for thousands of years. It's a matter of now reconnecting back to those places."
Oker was eager to share with visitors the scents and medicines he's been creating using local plants and fungi, and of the history of how Kema Experiences has been developed over the years.
"I want people to take away amazing happiness of, 'Hey this is really cool, we'd like to have more of these kind of experiences,'" Oker said.
"This is an opportunity for non-indigenous communities to come hang out with us and talk to the elders and just reconnect."
Kema Experiences will head to Swan Lake Provincial Park August 9 to 11.
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