It is said that if you listen carefully a babbling brook can tell you stories. If this is true then imagine the great stories to be heard at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako rivers in Prince George, B.C.
Located in the Central Interior of British Columbia and known as the “Hub of the North”, human occupation in the area dates back 9,000 to 10,000 years before present – when the First Nation people, the Lheidli T’enneh thrived here. Rivers full of salmon and sturgeon, forests filled with moose, bear, grouse and porcupine, roots and berries, it was a place of riches and culture for this sub-group of the Dakelh/Carrier people.
In 1807 with the influx of traders seeking riches from the Fur Trade, Fort George was established by Simon Fraser near the junction of the rivers as a base for the North West Company whose headquarters at the time was located in Montreal, Quebec. This area is a major community park that up until recently, was known by the same name; however I am very happy to report it has since been changed, and rightfully so, to the Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park.
Forced to move from Fort George to Reserve land in an area outside of Prince George in 1911 or, be burned out to make way for the Grand Trunk Railway, the Lheidli T’enneh‘s voices remain strong to the present day. Although foreshadowed by the history of explorers and white settlers their stories, knowledge and Culture are as important now as that fateful day in 1914 when the last buildings in their village were burned down and abandoned – When silent tears were ignored in the name of progression.
In 1862 John Robert Giscome, a citizen of Jamaica, W.I. wintered on Lheidli T’enneh land while on his way to Fort McLeod. Part of that expedition required a nine mile hike through the wilderness from the river to Summit Lake and is known today as the Giscome Portage.
Giscome and his companion, prospector Henry McDame, were the first non-aboriginal people to make this trek. Imagine that. A man from the tropical island of Jamaica who could walk shirtless in his home during any season, surviving a harrowing winter in the Prince George outback. One can only imagine their interactions with the Carrier people and that their idea of wealth, opportunity and exploration fueled their desire to succeed on the journey.
Today John Giscome’s experiences with the First Nations people are but a whisper on the waves of the two rivers, echoing off the leaves of the mighty cotton-wood.
There is a story of strength hidden in Prince George’s past that is shaping the future of this northern city. They are but forgotten memories that mingle in the waters of the confluence; Those who were forced to whisper are the ones we hear loudest today.
Please watch the video below. It is a cultural, experiential milestone that pleases me so deeply and saddens me at the same time. I am Metis. I studied Anthropology at U.N.B.C. My focus was Traditional Environmental Knowledge (First Nations) and I wish I could have been there for this very proud moment!
THIS, is why Responsible Experiential Tourism is so vital to our world!
“Wheni Lheidli T’enneh ts’inli – ’et nankoh took’oh lheghidli'”. “We are the people of the confluence of rivers – there two rivers converge. Like the rivers, we aspire to move ahead as an organized, highly motivated, determined and self-reliant nation.”