Supporting Elders and Seniors to Live Well at Elders Gathering

When the Adams Lake Band hosted the 34th Annual Elders Gathering from July 13-15, 2010 in Salmon Arm, traditional territory of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation, the Seniors’ Directorate was there to meet the Elders and provide healthy living information and resources.

The Directorate hosted an information booth at the Gathering, to promote provincial government resources for older adults, such as the BC Seniors’ Guide and the website. Many of the estimated 3,000 Elders in attendance stopped by to pick up information and share their views on healthy living.

The Ministry of Health’s Aboriginal Healthy Living Branch and Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation’s Intergovernmental and Community Relations Branch were also in attendance, joining SHLS in several demonstrations of “Energy Bursts” from the Move for Life physical activity DVD. Also participating in the Energy Bursts were staff from the First Peoples’ Cultural Council, the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, and many Elders from the audience.

The three-day event featured entertainment, including traditional and modern songs, dances and storytelling; speakers; workshops, from flute- and drum-making to grant-writing (see additional workshop information in COSCO article in this e-newsletter); and self-care services such as traditional healing, glucose testing, and haircuts. There were also information booths, vendors selling a range of items, and excursions to local heritage sites and other points of interest. Most of all, the Gathering provided an opportunity for Elders from Nations across the province to come together, to learn and share thoughts and ideas, and to be celebrated for their continuing contributions.

Many thanks (kukwstsétsemc) to the Secwepemc Nation and the Adams Lake Band for their hospitality, to the many supportive volunteers, and to J.D. and Ethel Billy, King and Queen of the 34th Annual Elders Gathering, for giving of their time to be interviewed for this e-newsletter.

The 35th Annual Elders Gathering will be hosted by the Stó:lō Nation, in the Lower Mainland, in 2011.