First Nations - Relationship Building & Reconciliation

Fort St. James has been home to the Dakelh speaking peoples since long before the arrival of Simon Fraser and the Hudson’s Bay Company. Nak’azdli, Yekooche, Binche, Tl’azt’en, Middle River First Nation and Takla Lake First Nations in the area comprise approximately 25% of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council.

With Gratitude

Mayor and Council acknowledge that the District of Fort St. James occupies land that since time immemorial has been home to Nak'azdli Whut'en. The land on which we live and work holds great cultural value and importance. We acknowledge and respect the people and the territory that hold our community. 

Relationship Building

In the spirit of reconciliation, Mayor and Council have committed to work to improve the relationship between our two Councils. The  Councils meet regularly to share a meal, discuss common problems, find solutions and celebrate successes. The District of Fort St. James is excited to work together on future community projects.

How the Trees Got Their Bark - Generously shared by Ruby and Guy Prince

Long ago, everything on earth was connected, everything spoke, this is how it was! Human’s, animals, and trees all could communicate and understand each other. The trees that stand in the forest could talk to each other, that’s how this earth was.

Man, they needed wood to keep their fires lit, so they could cook and stay warm, but they had nothing to cut the trees down with. Man respected the land, for it provided all the things they needed to survive and only took the trees that had already died. With no tools to cut trees they used the fire to burn down trees. They would take fire and put it at the base of the tree and let it burn through the wood till the tree fell, then they would drag it to their village and this is how they kept their fires going.

One day a man from the village needed to get wood, so he went out into the woods to find a tree that he could take. As he walked and he searched for a tree that had died, he knew he was to only take a dead tree for everything is living, he searched and searched but could not find a dead one, all the trees were all alive, but he needed to get wood for the village or they would not be able to cook or stay warm. He searched looked at every treetop to find one that had no leaves and was no longer green. But there was none, he came across a tree that was dying, the tree had very little leaves and was not green, the tree it was half dead. The man decided that this was the only tree he could take, so he took fire and placed it at the base of the half dead tree to burn it through, so he could take it back to the village.

The trees they started to talk they told the Man to stop that the tree was not dead yet and he should not take it. They told him to wait till it dies and then he could take it. The man who already lite the fire said but I must take the tree, its half dead and there isn’t any dead tree for me to take.

The trees began to gather and talk:

The poplar tree said “No let him take it, there is to many of us here, it’s too crowded and we can’t get sun to grow. This is why, the tree is dying. Let him burn it.”

The Pine tree said, “we grow fast and need more light to grow, let him burn it.” And the Spruce tree said, “we need to respect the order of life and he should only find dead trees.”

The balsam tree stood in front of the poplar tree arguing, saying, “No the tree is still alive wait till it dies, then the man can take it.” The balsam tree began to put out the fire stomping on it, padding it telling the other trees, “No its still alive.”

The poplar tree arguing with Balsam telling him “stop putting the fire out, its crowded and let it burn.” They argued back and forth balsam trying to put the fire out but couldn’t.

All the trees began to argue, the fir, cottonwood, pine, spruce, balsam and poplar. The poplar and the balsam began to fight saying “let it live”, “no let it burn”, the fire being stomped on and fanned, the trees started to push each other.

The poplar tree pushed the balsam and the balsam fell right into the fire.

The pine tree started whipping at the spruce tree, but the spruce tree was solid and even though his bark lifted, the pine tree had split his needles from whipping too hard against the spruce tree. The fir pushed the poplar and he fell into the ash the cotton would pick up a sharp rock and began to hit the fir tree, then the fir picked up a bigger sharper rock and began to hit the cottonwood back, the rocks cut the bark of the two trees.

The man watching the fight and listening to the argument yelled at them to stop fighting, they were hurting each other and need to stop fighting and arguing. He told them the half dry tree has fallen and is dead now, the man told them he needed the tree to provide heat for his village, so they could cook and stay warm.

The man told them look at you, poplar tree your bark its full of ashes, balsam you fell into the fire and you have blisters. Fir, your your bark it is full of little cuts and cottonwood your bark has deep cuts. Pine your needles they are split and spruce your bark is lifted.

The man told them he was sorry but needed the tree and that now the trees you will all keep your scares to remind all living thing how the trees got their bark.

The man took the tree back to the village and told the story of how the tree got their bark.

The poplar tree has bark that looks like its covered in ashes, the balsam tree is has its blisters, the fir has small markings that look like many little cuts. The cotton wood has deep cut markings in its bark the Pine its needles are split, the spruce shows its whipped scares.

There are many lessons to be learned from this story, from respecting everything, how fighting or arguing leaves scars, and how although the outside of things may be different, we are still connected to everything. Each person that hears this story will get an understanding of something that has meaning. How one interprets it is up to the listener. Carrier people still believe that the trees can talk to each other and that we are connected to everything and that there are lessons to be learned about life.