Story as told by Doreen Patrick
Our Carrier customs/traditions/value systems and beliefs are all included in our culture and the land of our Carrier people. Our Carrier people are travellers, hunters, good-hearted, caring, very hard working and comical people. I know they are hard working from one of the stories told by my dad Jean Morris Boyd.
My dad and his late grandfather Jerry Boyd had to work in fields planting hay from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. They both had to cut the trees by hand and pull out the stumps by hand. They had jobs working for other ranchers in the area, making fences, haying, feeding cows and hauling supplies for local merchants. Our people helped in the building of the roads from Nazko to Quesnel. It was hard work cutting down trees and removing boulders all by hand. The people always pulled together and helped each other in every thing they did, from building a house, haying, feeding animals, and cutting wood. Our people also shared, when a hunter killed a moose/deer or any small animals. It was shared with all the people on the reserve.
I remember when I was about 7 or 8 years old and home from the residential school for the summer; I had to pack moose meat to distribute to other households. I remember when I was 10 years old my mother was taken to the hospital; I was responsible for taking care of my younger siblings. I had to cook, make lunch, tea and juice to take to my dad, older sister and brother who were working in the fields.
When we were in bed at night, our parents and grandparents told us stories to help us learn. These stories were told by sharing their own experiences and told in a way so we could learn from them and not make the same mistake. Through these stories we were taught what to do and not to do and what could happen to you.
We had our beliefs; it was followed and practised by all of the people. We believed when a child is first born you take a baby’s eyelash and put it in a robin’s nest so the child will learn to get up early. We believed that when a boy became of age there was a ritual he had to go through every morning for a whole year. The boy had to get up early at dawn and run for miles, so he would learn to get up early and not to be lazy. We believed that when you are pregnant, you should not eat bear meat because your baby would be mean. When a girl became of age they were taught about respect for the men’s hunting equipment. They were not to step over the men or their guns that they use for hunting or the men would not kill any game. When a girl became of age on her first monthly she had to go out in the bush and stay there for the first three days for a time of cleansing. We believed that our men ate first, according to their age, the eldest man first. This was out of respect for our men who were hunters. After all the men have dished up then it was the women’s turn.
I remember the good times when we prepared for the priest to arrive. Those were happy times. We used to look forward to the sleds coming in from other reserves. When we saw the lamps on the clearing above Nazko, people would start to shoot off their guns to welcome the visitors. It was also the time when people would come from Kluskus, ‘Ulkatcho, to celebrate Christmas and New Year with us in Nazko. I remember so well because there was hardly any alcohol and they were happy times. We would all help with the decorations of small trees cut to make a trail from the main road to the church. I remember saving the wrappers from candy kisses all year just for this occasion. We would have dances every night and was no alcohol and everybody has a good time. Everybody then went to church Christmas Eve and went to a big dance for New Years.