Ways of Life

Initiation of Young Men

In Nisg̱a’a society, the passage from childhood to adulthood was traditionally marked with initiation rituals for girls and boys. For boys, their initiation into manhood began around age 10.

When a young boy reached 10 years of age, his uncles would begin taking him to the family fishing and hunting camps to help preserve fish and hunt wild game. They would also teach him carpentry skills for building cabins and smokehouses, and how to gather fire wood. He was also taught when and how to scout for berry patches so the women could pick them.

When a young man killed his first game animal or caught his first fish, including shellfish, he was taught to share it with his paternal family so they ate first. This tradition is still practiced today.

When this happens, the paternal family gives the young man a gift to recognize his generosity and to express their pride in his abilities to hunt and fish, such as a lantern for digging cockles at night or warm clothing to wear while he is hunting or fishing.