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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Terry Garvin Oral History Interview

In 1951, a young man from Craik, Saskatchewan, named Terry Garvin began his journey into the woods - specifically the Boreal Forest of Canada's northwest. At the time, he was a constable for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police assigned to serve various communities in northern Alberta, northern Saskatchewan, northern British Columbia, and the southern Northwest Territories. Over the next 13, his work brought him in close contact with some of the First Nations and Métis communities of the North, and his fascination with the culture of the people of the Boreal Forest was born.

Terry Garvin

Garvin would go on to work in a number of different fields in the North: community development, socio-economic assessment and management, and developing the new discipline of Traditional Use Studies or Land Use Mapping. With a number of colleagues (Gordon Armitage, Cecilia Boucher, Bertha Ganter, Gordon Hodgson, Fred MacDonald, Shirley Nelson and Mike Robinson of the Arctic Institute of North America), he undertook the important Fort McKay First Nation Traditional Land Use and Occupancy Study There is Still Survival Out There.The Study, completed in 1994, became a model for this kind of work mapping 38,000 square kilometers including the peoples' trails and cabins, spiritual (grave) and historical sites, fur bearers, big game, fish, birds, berries, trees and plants, place names, and traplines.

Garvin went on to work on other TUS including the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation. In his work he drew on his extensive knowledge of the North and also used photography and oral history to enhance the studies. Garvin wrote Bushland Peoples (University of Calgary Press, 199?) and Carving Faces, Carving Lives, People of the Boreal Forest (Heritage Community Foundation, 2006). He also was actively involved in the creation of the People of the Boreal Forest Website and Edukit, developed by the Heritage Community Foundation for the Alberta Online Encyclopedia - www.albertasource.ca.

The following excerpts are from an oral history interview with Garvin undertake in 2008 by Dr. Adriana Davies, Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief of the Heritage Community Foundation. David Bates is the videographer and video editor.

Terry recalls war, work and school, all while supporting his family.
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56 Languages
There were 56 Indian Languages in Canada, only 8 survived.
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Community Abandonment
Building off Reserves now, Fort McKay, Oil Companies.
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Baby Rattle
Baby Rattle made from Grouse.

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Dream Mapping
Elders and Dream Mapping

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Fort McKay Development
1960s, negative aspects of development on community, created credits and debits
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Fort Ray Moose Hunt
Moose hunt, cleaning and dressing, taking organs to the chief as an offering
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Fort Ray Dog Team
Dog Teams, Decoration

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Fort Ray Trappers and Hunters
Trappers, diet, wildlife, caribou

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Game Warden and The Wolf
Taboo regarding the shooting of a wolf.

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Negall Motives
Beliefs - Negall a humanlike creature, Dog Rib people...
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Lunch For Visitors
Young natives are not moving back to community after University...
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One Foot In Hell
Names registered under Indian Act, People not living with original names...
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Profit River
Small community along Alaska Highway...

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Fort Ray RCMP
Tea Dance, symbolism, uses camera to capture lifestyle of the people...
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Info about publication of Bushland People and Carving Faces...
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RCMP Moose
Old lady shot a moose out of season, had to go to jail...
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RCMP Prince George, Fort St. James
Terry's intro to the native community...

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Updating Value Systems
White society needs to update, is it any better than the traditional life...
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Testing Prejudice
Interesting anecdote regarding prejudice.

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War Training
WWI, Michelle Bouvier, 1919 hired to be a dog musher in Siberia...
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White Fox-Wolverine
Inuits living on ice became ill...

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