How do you know the difference between a female and male partridge? Just look at the colouring on its tail, says Sigon Nottaway.
Identifying partridge is just one of the many lessons that the bubbly 10-year-old Algonquin girl has made for family and friends through her mother’s social media.
“It’s just who I am,” said Sigon, who is a member of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and lives in Maniwaki, Que., about 120 kilometres north of Ottawa.
“I always watch tutorials and I thought that I could make my own.”
So far, she’s made many videos on how to clean and identify partridges, as well as a step-by-step process on how to make maple syrup. Intertwined throughout is a lesson on the importance of conservation.
“My dad always taught me when I’m hunting, never get too excited, never show off,” she said.
“It’s disrespectful to the animals because you don’t take an animal if you don’t need it. You take it when you really need it and when you want food.”
Being far from camera shy, the videos are a way for Sigon to practise her performng chops while sharing valuable cultural knowledge about hunting, trapping, and fishing.
“That’s what she loves to do,” said her mother Tina Nottaway.
Like many youth her age, Sigon spends her time watching videos on YouTube and recreating viral TikTok dances.
With aspirations to be an actress and model, she has plans to travel to Los Angeles this summer to attend the International Presentation of Performers, a talent promotion event that brings hopefuls wanting their big break together with agents and managers.
“I’m excited to be acting there and just show ’em what I got,” said Sigon.
For her mom, the trip will be an important opportunity to showcase her daughter’s many interests and talents.
“The more she’s out there, the more she can bring to other people,” said Tina.
“We live in a very small community and there’s not much opportunity for anything like this. It’s hard to find anything for them to participate in just to be themselves.”
Rakwirenhtha Diabo, a Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) elder from Kahnawake, south of Montreal, was a facilitator for a program that offered activities to youth based on traditional culture and teachings. Every year, they’d spend a week in Algonquin territory with Nottaway’s family.
He said it’s important for youth to grow up learning traditional skills, and he watched how Sigon quickly began teaching youth twice her age. He was also impressed by her videos.
“When I saw those videos… I said ‘holy Moses,’ I was amazed. She’s already a presenter,” said Diabo.
“She’s been this natural teacher ever since she was growing up. I couldn’t believe it. That gave me really some insight into the endless possibilities of our children.”
For Sigon, she just wants to share what she’s learned with others.
“I just want to teach and inspire people, and show them what I can do.”