35th Annual BC Elders Gathering Held July 12-14, 2011
Qepóthet te Mestiyexw – "Bringing People Together"
The 35th Annual BC Elders Gathering was hosted by the Stó:lō and Coast Salish Communities, July 12-14, 2011, in Abbotsford. The Gathering is an opportunity to honour and celebrate Elders, and gives Elders a chance to socialize, share cultural teachings, and make connections with youth and other community members. Over 4,000 Elders from communities across the province traveled to Abbotsford to take part in this year’s Gathering.
The Elders Gathering is also a time to learn. Speakers, workshops, and display booths presented information on health and wellness, education, safety, residential school settlements, and much more. Among the many speakers and dignitaries at the event were the Honourable Steven Point “Xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl,” Lieutenant Governor of B.C., and Her Honour Mrs. Gwendolyn Point “Shoshqelwet.”
A King and Queen who demonstrate outstanding leadership qualities and community spirit are selected for each Elders Gathering. King Johnny E. Williams “Quahonn” from Scowlitz First Nation and Queen Virginia Peters “Siyamex” from Sts’ailes (Chehalis) led this year’s proceedings.
Entertainment and activities for the Elders included First Nations and Métis cultural performances, fashion shows, shopping trips, and tours of the Stó:lō territory. Vendors at the Gathering sold everything from t-shirts to fine handmade jewelry and cedar boxes. For the second year in a row, staff from the Seniors’ Healthy Living Secretariat were on hand to share information, listen, and learn from the Elders. Congratulations to the Stó:lō and Coast Salish hosts for an excellent event!