Sundance Lake is located approximately 20 kilometers east of Chetwynd, British Columbia just off of Highway 97. Around the lake you can find Indian Paintbrush and Lesser Spikemoss growing. Upon your arrival at Sundance Lake local Elder Simon Redhead greats you near the lake shore. He informs you that people used to have a sun dance here. Suddenly you hear a strange animal sound followed shortly by “Holy mackerel, that’s a nice looking moose!” Simon points out a moose nearby and is reminded of what life was like when he first came to Moberly Lake at the age of seventeen.
Simon Redhead shares stories about trapping in the Sundance Lake area. He never used a gun while hunting here. Instead, he used a double-bladed axe.
Earl Parenteau and Virginia Lalonde discuss the Cree word for “sun dance.” Earl notes that Sundance Lake actually translates to “nemwhetonapiqute simogun” in Cree which means “thirst dance.” Virginia and Earl reminisce about when people used to gather there between the two lakes at Sundance.
Moberly Lake is 126 kilometers west of Dawson Creek, British Columbia near the town of Chetwynd. Around Moberly Lake you can find Saskatoon berry bushes and mint growing.
Walking towards the lake shore you find Virginia Lalonde. She was born right at this spot near the Moberly Lake Bridge in 1924. Virginia remembers what life was like growing up in Moberly Lake. Her family used to live in a cabin with a dirt floor and no cook stove in winter and in tents in summer. Moberly Lake has changed a lot since then.
In addition to a wide variety of fish, Moberly Lake is also home to the Moberly Lake monster. There have been various sightings of the Moberly Lake monster over the years, with plenty of speculation regarding its existence.
Standing by the edge of Moberly Lake, Simon Redhead, Howard Gauthier, and Marty Parenteau share ice-fishing stories. Simon lists all the different kinds of fish that can be found in Moberly Lake.
Della Owen, a Moberly Lake resident, remembers being born with a “different kind of silver spoon” in her mouth. Growing up, Della’s parents taught her values that were reflective of the native way of living. While her family did not have lots of money growing up, she felt she was rich in other, more important, ways. Della later connects this to the values that the Moberly Lake community was built on: a strong sense of community and mutual respect.
Saulteau First Nations is located a half hour north of Chetwynd, British Columbia. One of the local plants in this area is Fireweed.
Rhonda Sandoval brought her knowledge of traditional medicine with her when she moved to Moberly Lake from Bella Coola, British Columbia. Rhonda uses Fireweed in tea and as a poultice. Fireweed has pink flowers and can be used to make teas and other medicines. Saulteau resident Virginia Lalonde remembers when people used to use local plants to help people when they were hurt or injured. Virginia recalls they used parts of spruce trees to help heal cuts.
Walking through the Buffalo berry and Chokecherry bushes near the Muskoti Learning Centre you find local resident Earl Parenteau. Earl shares with you a few Wesakechak stories:
Wesakechak encounters a bird while walking through the forest. The Bird had a headache, so he sings a song, takes out his eyes and then throws them up in the air to cool them off and then put them back in. Wesakechak pretends he has a headache so that Bird will show him the medicine. After fooling Bird, Wesakechak throws his eyes up in the air and then looses them. Fox notices Wesakechak wandering through the forest blind and scratches Wesakechak’s face. Wesakechak catches Fox and makes Fox walk him to a spruce tree. Using the sap from the spruce tree, Wesakechak makes himself new eyeballs. Earl shares the moral of this story: never play with medicine.
Wesakechak tricked a group of ducks into closing their eyes and dancing around a fire. As they were dancing, Wesakechak started killing the fat ducks so he could eat them. A small duck peeked and saw what Wesakechak was doing, and warned everyone else to run away. While the ducks were escaping Wesakechak kicked the small duck, which is why ducks walk funny today. The day after the round dance, Wesakechak started to cook the ducks he had killed. Fox wanted some ducks to eat, so he pretended to have a sliver in his foot and then challenged Wesakechak to a race. Seeing that Fox was limping, Wesakechak agreed to race Fox around the lake with the prize being the ducks. To make it fair, Wesakechak tied a rock around his own foot. As soon as Wesakechak was out of sight, Fox ran as fast as he could and won the race. Fox ate all the ducks. Wesakechak discovered that Fox had eaten them all, and found Fox sleeping by a tree. Wesakechak lit a fire around the sleeping Fox. When Fox woke up, he thought it was a forest fire and jumped through the flame. That is why Fox now has black marks on his fur.
Pauline Walker begins the exploration of West Moberly Lake with some words in Cree and Elders Lillian Gauthier and Mathilda Hiebert introduce you to the hunting activities in the area. In May and June they used to collect goose eggs and trap muskrats along the shore of Moberly Lake. Just a little bit past where they trapped is a creek, which used to have really good fishing. Mathilda notes how they used to prepare meat. Hunting would occur in August, and they would come back the first part of September. They would then dry the meat, stocking up for winter. The area is filled with jack pine trees, and there is Diamond Willow growing on the banks of the lake. You can also find the occasional Kinnikinik plant in the area.
Standing by the edge of West Mobely Lake, Pauline shares a bit of the area’s history. Disputes between the residents of McLeod Lake and Moberly Lake led to the stealing of local women. Families were spread out as a result. Pauline has relatives in McLeod Lake that she has never met.
Pauline asks Mathilda and Lillian what languages they spoke growing up. Mathilda tells you that Cree was actually her second language, and English is her third. Many of the women in the area are not native Cree speakers and had to learn the language as adults.
The Twin Sisters area is heavily wooded with Alpine Fir and Jack Pine trees. Two mountains side by side are the namesake. Walking through the forest you find Melvin Davis. Melvin greets you with stories of his childhood growing up in the Moberly Lake area. Melvin was born in Moberly Lake and raised mostly in teepees, moving back and fourth between Moberly Lake and his family’s trap line every winter.
Melvin talks about using the plant Rat Root. Besides the Elders, very few people use Rat Root. It is good for colds and sore throats. Melvin notes that whatever is taken from the land must be given back.
Melvin shares stories his Great-Grandfather told him about Twin Sisters. Mevlin’s Great-Grandfather told him that the Twin Sisters Mountains are sacred, and should never be let go.
Elder Lillian Gauthier also grew up knowing that the Twin Sisters were sacred. She tells you a story about a Beaver native who a long time ago slept for ten days beside the Twin Sisters. On the eleventh day he woke up and brought back information about all that he dreamt about.
Virginia Gauthier, a relative of Melvin’s, explains to you how her family moved to Moberly Lake. Virginia and Melvin’s Great-Grandfather came from Manitoba. He had a vision of the Twin Sisters Mountains and decided to move his family there. It took her family twelve years to get to Moberly Lake, staying at different places along the way. Virginia believes that the Twin Sisters are sacred and will protect their people.
Reflecting on traditional stories and teachings brings Della Owen to remember the sense of community in the Moberly Lake area when she was growing up. Her dad had four huge gardens; only one was for them. The other gardens were for the whole community. There is so much destruction now and the community is not as close. There are drugs, alcohol, violence, and abuse. Della laments that the teachings are gone, and living is not the same as it was.