The Métis Nation Columbia River Society hosted a series of workshops on the preservation of a buffalo hide this past week, with more planned for the future.
The buffalo was secured through a sizeable grant through Interior Health and was harvested from the Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch in the Blaeberry in February.
The buffalo was a part of a food security program, with the meat feeding between 30-35 families in the area.
The hide has been in the process of being prepared to be used as a robe since February, going through a salting process, as well as a bath and shampoo before being stretched out for the workshops.
“The buffalo is so important, it really was the livelihood of the Métis and Indigenous people,” said Caren Nagao, president of the Métis nation society.
“It provides food, clothes, tools and housing, the four most important aspects,” said Jesse Jobin.
The buffalo were hunted to near extinction hundreds of years ago, according Nagao, as a way of controlling the Indigenous and Métis nations who depended on the animal to survive.
The workshops provide an important opportunity to teach the importance of the buffalo and get the youth of the community involved in the activity.
“Back in the day, they didn’t hunt the buffalo, they straight up killed them to exterminate the Métis and Indigenous populations, the ended up starving,” said Monica Lavoie.
“It’s of the utmost importance to us to involve the youth, they really are our future.”
Youth have been involved every step of the way, from the skinning that took place at the ranch to the final product.
The trio says the support for the workshops from the community has been astounding, with the Columbia Basin Trust pitching in to help cover the costs, as well as the RCMP donating shampoo for the maintenance of the hide.
The supplementary funding from the CBT and other organizations will allow the Métis society to offer the opportunity to send youth to a hunting camp this fall and maintain other programs such as these workshops.