Dene culture and traditions continue to be important and celebrated in Black Lake. Important traditional foods include caribou, fish, bannock and blueberries. Sharing, working together, celebrating together, respecting the land, water, animals and air and respect for Elders and traditional knowledge are important values shared in Black Lake. The Dene language is still very prevalent in the community.
Many members continue to hunt, fish, and trap as their ancestors did. Respect for animals and the hunt are important traditional values of the Dene. Important survival skills are passed down to the children. Every year, the men of the community travel to the Northwest Territories to hunt for caribou. The meat is shared with the community.
Father Porte Memorial School also has a school hunting trip annually where Elders show students where to hunt caribou and how to dress the caribou after the hunt. Fishing is also a very important skill that is passed down to new generations. When fishing, it is tradition to give the lake a gift for safe travel. Elders also teach children how to pick blueberries, teaching them what types are safe for eating and important safety practices when picking.
Students continue to learn culture and traditions at culture camps held annually. Elders teach the children about traditional hunting methods and survival skills such as preparing a hide for clothing. They also teach about significant traditions, such as drumming and dancing. The drum is an important part of the Dene culture. It is respected and used to begin all ceremonies. Traditional drumming teaches respect and creating love and friendships. It brings the entire community together, including the children and the Elders. Dancing is also an important tradition. The participants bond and celebrate being Dene. Some traditional dances include the “Tea Dance,” the “Drum Dance,” and the “Round Dance.”
Religion is also an important part of the Dene culture. The Catholic faith is very important, and each year Dene people of the Athabasca gather at Pine Channel between Stony Rapids and Fond du Lac for a pilgrimage and retreat. Mass is conducted twice a day and children’s programs run throughout the week. Black Lake members also celebrate their catholic faith at masses at their local church, Church of Our Lady of the Cape.