Tsilhqot’in utilize social media after annual Nation Gathering called off due to COVID-19

The Tsilhqot’in National Government utilized its Facebook page to a host a virtual gathering this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (TNG photo)
Poucette L Audrey’s family pick some sage. (Facebook photo)
Darwin Stump works for the Blueberry River First Nations northwest of Fort St. John where he plans and organizes their cultural camp. He said he loves the Tsilhqot’in Nation Gathering as he gets to reconnect with family such as his cousin Davey whose mother is Bellann Stump. (Facebook photo)
A photo of Patterson Lake by Cindy Charleyboy.
Melanie Charles Johnny’s family enjoyed swimming at Paper Lake last month. (Melanie N Charles Johnny Facebook photo)
Chanza Myers shares a photo of her daughter engaging in horse therapy. (Facebook photo)
Maureen Pigeon and Sharon Carpenter head out to pick nuwish (soapberries). (Ashley Pigeon Facebook photo)
TsiDelDel dancers performed in Williams Lake this March. (Melanie N Charles Johnny facebook photo)
Wanda Christy shared this photo of camping with family.
Jayde Nickel of Yunesit’in prepares a deer. (Jen Schwab Nickel facebook photo)

From picking nuwish (soapberries) for Indian ice cream to telling scary stories at Alexis Lake around a campfire, members of the Tsilhqot’in Nation were more than willing to share photos of their favourite gathering activities in part of this year’s Virtual Nation Gathering.

COVID-19 restrictions prevented the Tsilhqot’in from celebrating their 29th annual Nation Gathering traditionally held in Siwash — which lies in the heart of Tsilhqot’in territory.

“It was always a matter of getting all six communities together and we would celebrate the fish coming back and have all kinds of traditional games and competitions,” said Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) executive director Jenny Philbrick, noting they had wanted to keep the spirit of gathering alive.

“We thought that we would have a virtual gathering and get people to share different events, or situations they’re doing in lieu of the gathering this past weekend.”

Although many were disappointed with the Nation Gathering being a no-go this year, Philbrick said she was surprised by the amount of responses shared to the TNG’s facebook page on Friday, Aug. 21 when the three-day gathering would have commenced.

With the virtual gathering having launched with photos by Philbrick of last year’s gathering that attracted at least 500 attendees, members were quick to respond with more than 50 photos being uploaded.

Holding his newborn cousin Davey, the first was by Darwin Stump who said he loved the gathering at Siwash for not only its traditional food but the opportunity to reconnect with family he hasn’t seen in years.

“I look forward to next summer’s event,” he wrote.

Other photos shared included Mary William showing how to work on a hide during TsiDelDel Culture Camp and Seraphine William making bannock.

Members also shared photos of themselves and family members enjoying activities such as drumming and dancing, and picking traditional medicines, as well making ribbon dresses and dreamcatchers.

“I think people have been suffering mentally with COVID and not being able to see people, but I think our people have been coming together even more and getting out on the land right now, which is beautiful,” Philbrick said, adding she has seen more individuals this year gardening and berry picking.

“Every summer it’s all about going out into Canada and discovering it but I think we’re rediscovering our own backyard.”

Read More: ‘This is a catastrophic situation’: First Nations leaders close salmon fishery in Tsilhqot’in

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