To continue their service of men, the collaboration between Coyote Brotherhood and Gathering Our Warriors will be hosting a Christmas breakfast on Saturday, December 10. The gathering event hopes to further develop brotherhood which the collaboration aims to foster.
The Herald sat down with three of the organizers of the collaborative group to learn more about its history, goals, and future plans.
Coyote Brotherhood was an organization in service of men, existing prior to the inception of its eventual partner group. It entered a period of inactivity until it was re established once again, after Citxw Nlaka’pamux Assembly (CNA) took over the reins.
“They realized there needed to be more supports out here in the valley for men,” Gathering Our Warriors Founder Dan Jager explained. “There are lots for women, but there weren’t that much for men at the time.”
Gathering Our Warriors was established in 2018 and ran until 2019, functioning as another hub providing supports for men. Towards the end of 2019, when Coyote Brotherhood was revived, a collaboration between the two groups was established.
“We decided that instead of having two different groups, why don’t we come together to create one bigger group where we can pool our funding together to do more things within the valley, for men,” said Jager, who is also now an organizer of the collaboration.
“I think the collaboration is good because, we give an opportunity for men to come together and connect to aid in their mental, spiritual, and emotional health,” said Joe Shuter organizer of the collaboration and member of the Coyote Brotherhood.
“What we find is a lot of the men from the different communities are isolated within their own lives. Joining this group they find that they are related in many ways.”
Jager noted that the new collaboration still carries both organizations’ names.
“Some of the people attending those groups still look at it through that original line,” he explained.
It wouldn’t be until March of this year when the group started to host events for men in the community.
Shuter noted that the group helps facilitate the cultural component of the gatherings.
“We go to sweats, we do traditional crafts, and we have meals together,” he said.
“We all have gifts to share,” added organizer Mark Coutlee. “Some are cultural while some have skills like hunting or fishing. When we gather, those gifts come out and we learn from each other. When we can’t learn everything in one gathering, we will plan another event to carry these learning experiences over.”
The organizers explained that the group serves as both a safe space for men to share personal stories as well as a place of resource to learn new skills and cultural practices.
“As Indigenous men, we have a hard time opening up and sharing,” said Jager. “We like to carry things and keep it tucked away. This group helps those closed-off men realize that this is an open space for them to share among men and not be judged or shamed.”
The group has a variety of age levels involved, from young boys to elders. The first event the collaboration hosted was a Knot tying event on March 19 of this year. The group has continued to host events once a month since then.
“We always aim to get 15 – 20 men to join in our gatherings,” said Jager. “Sometimes it could be less, sometimes it could be more. We believe that whoever ends up attending are meant to be there.”
The group has done many cultural activities including, arrow head knapping, traditional fish spear making, knot tying, sweat ceremonies, and camping. Aside from these activities the group’s gatherings also includes, storytelling, prayer, hand drumming, door prizes, and food.
Aside from the two groups, other agencies also work with the collaboration: namely CNA, Scw’exmx Family and Child Services Society, Lower Nicola Indian Band, and Upper Nicola Indian Band. There are also other members of the group who help make the gatherings possible.
“We have men from the surrounding communities such as Sonny Oppenheim, from Coldwater Indian Band, Marcel Shackelly from Nooiatch Band, Leonard Joe from Shackan, Bernard and Tim Manuel from the Upper Nicola Band, as well as Chael Boyce from CNA,” said Shuter.
The collaboration group has their doors open to the different bands outside of the Nicola Valley as well.
“We’ve been out to Hedley, and we’ve also been involved with the men in Lytton,” Shuter noted. “We look forward to seeing them come out for this Saturday’s breakfast.”
On Saturday, December 10, the collaboration looks to host a Christmas breakfast at the Hitchin’ Post as part of their ongoing ‘Men’s Gathering’ events.
“It’s coming together to share a meal,” said Jager. “For Indigenous people, we like to gather around food. It’s just a way for us to introduce ourselves in a non intrusive manner. It’s brothers sharing a meal together.”
A buffet will be prepared for the event to serve men. The event is open to all men in the community as well as the men of Indigenous communities outside of the Nicola Valley.
“Christmas is right around the corner and we wanted to quickly put something together for the men,” Jager explained. “We figured ‘what better way than to just share a meal?’”
The group also plans ice breaker games for people to win the door prizes. They are also looking to discuss plans for their Ice Fishing event in January.