The Nisga’a Nation kicked off its Hoobiyee new yr festivities on Friday, Feb. 24, and the celebration continues in Vancouver this weekend with two days of free occasions on the PNE discussion board.
Hoobiyee marks a brand new season of harvest, starting when the oolichan — a staple fish in the standard Nisga’a food regimen — arrive in B.C.
Samantha Beynon, who wrote a kids’s e book known as Oolichan Moon in 2022, instructed CBC she was launched to the fish at an early age and impressed to create a piece for youths that helps go down her household traditions.
“I grew up consuming oolichan. It was simply essential meals that our household ate,” mentioned Beynon, who was born and raised in Prince Rupert and is of Nisga’a, Tsimshian and European descent.
Illustrator Lucy Trimble, who hails from the Gingolx, B.C., within the Nass Valley, and whose conventional Nisga’a reputation is Hlgu Maksguum Ganaaw, remembers her first encounter with the oolichan — sometimes called a candlefish due to its oily texture.
“Oh, positively the grease … one among my earliest reminiscences,” she mentioned, including that oolichan is sweet for extra than simply meals.
“I used to have power earaches. And what my mother would do is pour heated oolichan grease in my ears, and that may cease them immediately,” she mentioned.
The writer and illustrator say the e book they labored on collectively was designed to go down tradition and data by means of generations, and Hoobiyee is the proper time of yr to show First Nations kids concerning the significance of the oolichan.
Trimble describes oolichan as a small, smelt fish often called the saviour fish among the many Nisg’aa. It is the primary fish to return to the river after the chilly, lean winter months “when everybody is admittedly hungry.”
She says she integrated shiny, up to date colors in her designs, which have been painted in watercolour earlier than being digitized, drawing inspiration from Nisga’a method in addition to visits to the river within the Nass Valley.
The oolichan begin to return in February, and the Nisga’a consider they’ll inform how plentiful the fish will probably be annually based mostly on the Hoobiyee moon that comes out in February.
“The very best place is when it is like a spoon that is going to catch every little thing coming into it,” mentioned Trimble. “And if it is the place it isn’t going to catch very a lot, or it is the other way up, then you already know to essentially ration what you could have.”
She provides that as a First Nations wellness employee, she leans on artwork to assist younger folks and households centre themselves and present how artwork connects them to their land, tradition and identification.
Beynon says writing the e book concerned quite a lot of collaboration with Trimble, members of the family and elders of the Nisga’a Nation.
“That was one thing that was actually necessary to me whereas writing,” she mentioned. “I actually needed to respect the data that was handed on to me.”
Beynon says, historically, the Nisga’a would boil the fish and skim the oil that rose to the highest into watertight wood containers often called bentwood packing containers. The observe continues at present, however the oil is saved in glass jars as a substitute.
She says she had the prospect to go to the grease camps within the Nisga’a Valley and make oolichan grease with one among her mom’s pals when she was youthful.
The writer is very grateful that Harbour Publishing helped embody Nisga’a phrases and a language information at the back of her e book, one other solution to assist protect cultural data.
She mentioned, in the end, she desires Nisga’a kids to rejoice their tradition.
“To be pleased with our conventional meals, to convey them to high school and share them — that is what I really need.”
The Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society Hoobiyee events began at 10 a.m. PT on Friday and runs by means of Saturday on the PNE Discussion board.
The 2-day celebration will function a cultural feast, performances by First Nations dance teams from throughout the province, Indigenous artisans and a 50/50 draw.