Culture and Language Revitalization

Culture Camp at Cote First Nation provides cultural skills training for Indigenous youth

The Cote First Nation Elders’ Council offered a culture camp to bring together community members and to offer an opportunity for Elders to pass down traditional skills and ceremonies to youth.

Skills such as cutting and drying meat, tanning hides, drum making, traditional cooking and sweetgrass picking ensured each day involved cultural teachings. The camp also mixed in fun activities such as foot races, a tug-o-war, three-legged races and tea and bannock-making competitions. 

The pride felt by Indigenous youth inspires reclamation of language and ceremony. These impacts are especially heartfelt by Elders supporting the delivery of this initiative and members of the Diocesan Reconciliation Committee.

A transformative cultural experience

Funding from the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund allowed for the culture camp to support food costs for the five-day long camp, which hosted a total of 45 participants. 

Funding also provided honorariums for Elders, knowledge keepers, ceremonial leaders and teachers to deliver programming, prayers and leadership. Camp cooks and support staff were also able to attend the Culture Camp.

Impact

Dignity and pride in Indigenous culture and heritage is not only a foundational step for children to reclaim identity, but a proven approach to help reduce risks of substance abuse and addictions. 

Learning Indigenous cultural roots is foundational for building self-esteem, ancestral identity and allows for generational healing to break cycles of unhealthy behaviors resulting from colonialism and traumatic impacts from Canada’s residential school system.  

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action inspire initiatives like the Culture Camp, which was a result of about a year’s worth of meetings discussing the camp and other elements of First Nation culture.

The lands where the camp was hosted is known as Kapakwawano skān, sacred grounds whose names means “overwhelmed with vegetation”. 

In 2023, the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund was able to provide funding for another five-day culture camp for Cote Youth, held in June.

Diocese of Regina