At this time the LCP program has funding available to McLeod Lake Indian Band from First People’s Cultural Council for the BC Language Initiative and Aboriginal Languages Initiatives. The tasks for this funding to complete include:
Weekly language classes in McLeod Lake and Prince George;
Adding to the existing database of Tse’khene words and phrases;
Creating a language teaching application for community to access from their phones and computers; Enhancing the existing First Voices web site;
Updating and distribution of the current Tse’khene Language Dictionary;
Creation of a booklet or stories or teachings.
Collaborate with Kwadacha and Tsay Keh Dene to develop a 25-year plan to revitalize the Tse’khene Language;
Provide training in Language Planning, Documentation, Mentor Apprentice development, Latent speaker program.
The current funding is available to us until March 1, 2020 at which time LCP is required to make a final report to First People’s Cultural Council (FPCC) on the success MLIB has made with the grant they were offered. This is important as LCP will continue to apply to the FPCC for future grants to support the department.
Language and Culture Planning has been successful in being awarded a grant from the First Nations Health Authority to organize a Smoke Mixture and Medicine Gathering Event. As part of this initiative, MLIB will coordinate a medicine walk to take Elders and Youth out on the land to teach and learn about traditional plants that were used historically for offerings in traditional ceremonies. The traditional mixture we will be gathering will include Injini (Kinnickinnick), Gat (Spruce), Udunna’gha (Red Willow), Ud’chay/say (Balsam), Gose (Pine) and other plants. LCP will coordinate, with Elders and Youth, a healing smudge for our community using the traditional smoke they gathered. The community will be invited to split up into four groups, and meet at the beginning of each of the four entrances to IR1 at McLeod Lake. Each group will walk into the community following a wheel barrow filled with the burning traditional smoke mixture and they will meet at the center of the Community. It is at this place that the community will hold a ceremony to acknowledge our Ancestors, and those that have passed before us. We will acknowledge the addiction our people are suffering, and voice our support for those that need us the most and we will acknowledge the healers, and the workers that devote their time to service the needs of our people. We will close the ceremony with a commitment to work together to heal our community and mark the occasion with a feast and a promise to continue this celebration every year. The hope is organization of this opportunity will take place early spring of 2020.
I have been advocating for space in McLeod Lake to accommodate language classes and Elder teaching/sharing of Tse’khene knowledge and history. At a meeting of MLIB managers, Meaghan Van Somer was able to get an approval from the Band Administrator Adele Chingee to open a Culture space at the common area of the new Elder’s Complex. This offer is temporary until McLeod Lake is able to complete the new Health Center building that is scheduled to break ground in Spring 2020. While we wait for the new space, I will work with the Elders in McLeod Lake to set up the common area in a way that supports them to have a space they can be proud of for family gatherings, teachings, activities and visiting.
McIntyre Lake is located approximately 40 minutes from McLeod Lake, going North up Hwy 97, and left on the Finlay Forest Development Road. Once you have passed the Pack River bridge on the Finlay FDR, you take a left on the Sabai Mainline and travel approximately 5 km’s and turn left again on the Holder Mainline. There are two trails leading into the lake front and McLeod Lake has been developing this area for a couple of years now. It is the hope of the Language and Culture Planning department, and the Lands Management department that in the spring of 2020 we will be able to get a crew out there to fix both trails and improve access for our Elder Members to get into this site. Following our success in getting this area cleared and accessible, we hope to develop it into an annual summer culture camp hosted by the McLeod Lake Indian Band members who will provide Tse’khene teachings on culture and language.
This summer I spent some time with Uncle Patrick Prince while he showed me where and how I could find our traditional hunting trails. He took us out to the back roads and pointed out where there were culturally modified trees, we would find a trail there. We stopped in one area where the culturally modified trees were had ribbon tied to them, and they were cut to just about 8 to 9 feet up from the ground. As we began to walk, he pointed out areas on the ground where there was evidence that not too many years ago there was a crew that came through and they opened up and cleared the trail for easier access. Uncle Pat expressed that he would like to see a project undertaken to hire a crew from MLIB to again go out to document the existing trails, and to clean them up for people to use again. It is the hope of Language and Culture Planning to make that a promise and begin preparations to help organize a crew as early as the coming spring 2020.