Culture Blog

Warming Up to Winter – A Carrier Perspective

Warming Up to Winter – A Carrier Perspective

Feb 12, 2024
Category: General Carrier 101 

The bite of the wind brushing against your cheek, the feeling of inhaling crisp winter air, and the whisper noise of soft snow falling from the sky. Carrier Nation members acknowledge the cultural significance of winter as a time to slow down, regenerate and celebrate the changing seasons.

In many communities, winter marks the end of the agricultural cycle. Harvested crops are stored and prepared for the colder months. This planning and preparation for winter ensures sustenance and survival for various communities.

Wilf Plasway Jr, Guardianship Receptionist in Burns Lake from Lake Babine Nation, Mountain clan, recalls hearing stories from his mother and Elders about how to embrace winter.

“Enjoying foods harvested over the course of the year is a huge part of the season. We always had to get everything prepared. From hunting for moose or deer meat, to preserving sockeye salmon through drying. There are so many different pieces to winter to me, the food, medicine, and spiritual aspects. If we were hunting, we were encouraged to only collect what we need, not to be wasteful, be respectful to the land and give back to Mother Nature. Whenever we caught a certain animal, we always gave back with tobacco.”

It can be helpful to adopt a positive winter mindset and look at it as a ritualistic time – a time to think about necessary changes we need to implement into our daily lives. Colette Plasway from Lake Babine Nation works as CSFS Administration/Operations Coordinator for the Jurisdiction department. She uses winter as a time to channel her creative energy through arts, crafts and spending time in community.  

“We would visit our community during winter, especially festive holidays like Christmas. We would all be gathered around a fire, telling stories, being grateful and reflecting on the past year. I can distinctly remember the sound of a story being told over the crackling firewood. It was a time to be appreciative of the things that we had. 

My parents grew up living in cabins, and had no access to electricity and it definitely puts into perspective how blessed I am. Now that I think about it, my parents made sure we spent time in communities to teach us about the values of hard work, respect and integrity. Winter is my favourite time to knit and crotchet as well,” Colette shares.

Carrier people have a deep connection to the land, recognizing the interconnectedness of the environment. Adriana Louis, CSFS Primary Care Assistant from Stellat’en First Nations, Caribou Clan   grew up with her grandfather who is a hunter, and during winter she and her siblings went snowshoeing on different trails. Winter was a time for nature hikes and spending quality time with our non-human relatives outdoors.

“My siblings and I would go on trails linked to a trap line with my grandfather where he would tell us about different kinds of plants, animals and insects. He taught us what animals looked like when they weren’t ready to be hunted, why we shouldn’t trap animals who had young ones and how to respect the land.”

Winter is alive with medicines and lessons that have been passed down for generations. Carrier peoples use plants, trees and other natural materials to promote healthy living and vitality – especially during winter when illnesses are common.

“I remember drinking lots of teas and soup in the winter time. My favourite to drink for immunity is Yuk’unulh’a which is Labrador tea. The leaves can be harvested during spring, summer or fall. The leaves are dried and boiled to make a tea which is used to boost immunity and clear out the system, but I only drank it sparingly like twice a year. We also used spruce to make disinfectants to clean the house because it has antifungal, antimicrobial, and antiseptic properties,” explains Stephanie Stacey, CSFS Office Assistant from Witset First Nation, Gilseyhu clan (Big Frog).  

Staying connected is one of the pillars of mental health - spending time with friends and family brings ways for people to come together to share stories, cultural knowledge, laughter and, of course, food. However, embracing a positive outlook and getting connected does not mean we deny the realities of the season. An example of that reality is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Always remember that you can reach out for support, and CSFS has a Mental Health and Wellness program that is available to anyone. Reach out to the Prince George Mental Health and Wellness Services team at 250-564-407, or Burns Lake at 250-692-2387.



 Add a Review of this item 
Comment Title:
Your Name:
Your Email Address:
Notify me of new comments to this item:
Your Rating:

Additional Comments:


Article Comments

SIGN UP for monthly Goozih Eblast

Last modified: Wednesday 03-Apr-24 12:36:28 PDT