Students learn Indigenous traditions at Doig Day after pandemic hiatus

Students joined elders to dance at Doig Day on May 26.

While the pandemic didn’t halt turning moose hide into moccasins, COVID-19 did cancel Doig Day.

After a two year hiatus the Doig River First Nation invited students back for the first event since 2019.

“Once again you get to share and the kids get to experience this event,” said Lucy Davis who helped organize Doig Day.

Davis and her mother in law, Margaret, were part of the inaugural Doig Day. Over 30 years ago the family began sharing their Indigenous traditions with Upper Pine Elementary students.

Throughout the years the event has grown and become a staple for grade four students in School District 60. Over 500 from across the North Peace attended the annual event in 2022.

Doig River First Nation Chief Trevor Makahadhay said he’s “Really glad that everybody got to enjoy a little bit of our culture and our connection to the land. We always want to share that with everyone and it’s important to know who your neighbours are.”

The MLA for Peace River North Dan Davies shared the same sentiment.

“These are our neighbours and this is a culture that I think isn’t talked a lot about and this is an opportunity to bring the kids from Fort St. John and area ion to learn about the culture,” Dan Davies said.

Throughout the day elders shared traditions like bannock. The kids roasted the dough on a stick over a camp fire before they topped the bread with jam.

Younger Doig River members also got to show off the skills passed down to them. Like a 16 year old slowing down his beaver skinning to show students how it’s done.

For elders Doig Day is about breaking down and sharing the traditional process. 

“The fleshing, the scraping, the ringing and then this is the finished product,” Margaret said as she gestured to a table filled with handmade crafts.

“They can see how it started out and then they can comprehend what the process is from start to finish,” Lucy said.

After learning about everything from archeology to drum making, the students wrapped up the day by joining elders dancing to the beat.