Several Aboriginal cultures have lived off the land of the Lac la Biche Region for many centuries and to this very day, the native traditions, artwork, stories, and history are kept alive through the work of active locals. Barb Derrick, originally from Chilcotin, British Columbia, was attracted by the rich and dynamic culture engrained in the native peoples of the Lac la Biche Region. She says, “I am fortunate to live and breathe my culture” through her own artwork and teachings as an instructor of the Aboriginal Arts & Culture program in Lac La Biche.
Also, as the curator for the Portage College Museum of Aboriginal Arts & Artifacts, Barb energetically shares her extensive knowledge and understanding of the natural and ancient way of life of the Aboriginal peoples, providing an interactive and authentic experience for anyone who comes to visit. For example, when demonstrating the traditional native footwear, Barb explained, “Basically the design on the moccasin and the shape will help you determine which culture and which tribe it came from which is the part that got me going because I really like to analyze and break things down.”
The museum displays handiworks of different tribes over the centuries, showcasing the incredible innovative and ingenious engineering of needlework, weaving, fur tufting, and other art forms and survival tactics using simple natural objects like porcupine quills and birch bark. “We have a diverse cultural heritage so these artifacts actually tell a story of their own. And if we can’t exhibit or display these artifacts, the knowledge will be lost,” Barb explains. Preserving these antique keep sakes is essential to maintaining the aboriginal culture of Lac la Biche Region.
Take the time to recognize the rich culture of these time-honoured peoples and celebrate National Aboriginal Day with your community this Saturday, June 21st..