A successful or unsuccessful caribou hunt was, at one point in time, a life or death situation for the Dene people of Canada’s north. Before there were guns, spears were used to hunt caribou. This required amazing accuracy and skill and Dene hunters would regularly practice their spear throwing techniques.
Of course, this was a long time ago, but the techniques and survival skills that were refined and developed have become ingrained in many aboriginal cultures and are now passed down and celebrated in the form of games, like the Dene’s Snowsnake spear throwing game.
National Aboriginal Day
In Canada, National Aboriginal Day celebrates and recognizes the heritage, diverse cultures, and significant contributions of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people in Canada. The Canadian government designated June 21, the summer solstice, as National Aboriginal Day.
“Through our Aboriginal Partnership Community Engagement program we are able to develop and grow many aboriginal cultural programs,” explains Audra Duncan, our sub-discipline lead for Aboriginal Partnerships Integrated Business. “Programs such as the Youth Traditional Games and drum making in Tulita, Northwest Territories, help pass down aboriginal traditions and practices. The individuals who run these programs work very hard within their communities to provide cultural education for the youth, and we’re glad we can help.”
Youth Traditional Games
The Youth Traditional Games celebrates and raises awareness about the Dene and Inuit cultures by increasing youth participation in traditional games. The 2015 Youth Traditional Games took place in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, from February 27 to March 1. Students from 14 schools and communities across the North took part in games such as the One Foot High Kick, Two Foot High Kick, Stick Pull, and, of course, the Snowsnake.
Tulita Drum Making and Heritage Days
Brad Menacho, the recreation director for the Hamlet of Tulita, explains how he needed to come up with a new program for his community. “I wanted to do something that wasn’t as recreation focused,” says Brad. “I realized there was funding available for cultural programs, so I put together drum-making sessions for the community.”
Twice a week, for eight weeks, members of the Tulita community came together to learn how to make traditional aboriginal drums. “It was really great to see people get out, socialize, and learn more about our culture,” says Brad.
At Stantec, we are committed to understanding the cultural, social, economic, and environmental challenges of the communities we support. Through our designs, we create opportunities to build a sense of community. And our people are truly passionate about giving back to our communities and making lasting connections where we live and work.
The success we’ve achieved through the Aboriginal Partnerships is a testament to the relationships we’ve built with aboriginal communities based on support, understanding, and mutual respect. We continue to be leaders in the development and sustainability of successful aboriginal partnerships in Canada.
Click here to learn more about our Aboriginal Partnerships.