Local Elders enjoy gathering on Vancouver Island

Haerttrich: ‘benefits of gatherings for Elders cannot be understated’

Elders and family members from the Canim Lake Band proudly marched during the opening ceremonies at the BC Elders Gathering at the Panorama Recreation Centre in North Saanich on July 7.

Elders and family members from the Canim Lake Band proudly marched during the opening ceremonies at the BC Elders Gathering at the Panorama Recreation Centre in North Saanich on July 7.

Canim Lake Band (CLB) Elders, along with some of their families, joined thousands of other elders at the annual BC Elders Gathering at the Panorama Recreation Centre in North Saanich on July 7-9.

Lisa Haerttrich is the Elders activities co-ordinator for the CLB, and she says the benefits of these gatherings bring to its Elders “cannot be understated.”

“[They attended] to celebrate a united journey to honour our ancestors and recognize our future through our youth.

“One of the benefits of the Elder Gathering is also giving our Elders something to look forward to all year long.”

Hosted by the Tsawout First Nation and the WASANEC Elders, the theme of the 39th annual gathering was “from the past to the present for the future.”

The event features many knowledgeable and respected First Nations Elders and leaders, provincial leaders and agency heads, and offers an opportunity to form new friendships and renew old ones, Haerttrich explains.

“The chance to see old friends and family is also exceptional to their well-being.”

The $2,000 grant provided by the New Relationship Trust (NRT), facilitated by NRT project officer Lana Plante, to help cover the costs for the local group to travel to Saanich is greatly appreciated, she adds.

(NRT is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening First Nations in British Columbia.)

Haerttrich says CLB Elders are highly respected and have many opportunities to spend time with the band’s other members and youth through a great variety of events – ranging from cultural activities and natural plant harvesting to community dinners and sports games.

“The strength gained emotionally and spiritually at the gathering has a long-term effect on our Elders and reflects back to the youth, as well as upcoming Elders and parents.

“It is as though the Elders Gathering puts new life into our Elders and encourages them.”