The Stemete7uw’i Friendship Centre is gearing up to reopen in a few weeks – hopefully in a new space closer to downtown 100 Mile House.
As the board and centre volunteers finalize plans to open up, they’re also on the lookout for a possible new location, said Murray Casey, president of the friendship centre’s board. A spot in downtown 100 Mile House, with easy access for those on foot or transit, would be ideal, he said.
“It would be really nice to be able to open the centre up to more people, a lot of people might not be able to walk all the way here, especially people who have mobility issues or who aren’t well,” Casey said.
Having a place for community members to gather safely, especially in light of the discovery of the childrens’ remains at the former Kamloops residential school, is essential, Casey added.
“To have a safe space for people to come and where they’re able to grieve if they need to, or just talk with someone, is really important,” he said.
Board member Elsie Urquhart also noted many Indigenous community members won’t attend the current location because of the proximity to St. Timothy’s Anglican Church. The centre is located on the church property.
“A lot of people will not come here because it’s behind the church,” Urquhart said, noting that the trauma associated with the church and residential schools is a deterrent for potential visitors.
Meanwhile, the board is already planning a series of events for the coming weeks.
This weekend, volunteer Selina Perry has organized a scavenger hunt that incorporates calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as clues.
“The idea behind it is to obviously highlight that document and to have that conversation, but to also get people out of the house and come together in a way that is safe,” Perry said.
Participants can find the clues online on the Stemete7uw’i Friendship Centre Facebook page, or pick a clue sheet up in person at the centre Saturday morning.
The self-guided hunt will take place Saturday and Sunday, with several prizes up for grabs including Tim Horton’s gift cards. Participants can claim their prizes back at the friendship centre – along with juice and snacks – between 3 and 5 p.m. either day.
A fundraising raffle will also be underway at the centre, starting July 1 and running through to Aug. 20.
The grand prize is a handmade quilt, donated by a member, and additional prizes include a Carhartt winter jacket, a piece of artwork and other handcrafted items.
Casey is also preparing to host an online Secwepemc language workshop throughout July, following a successful one-off class that took place in April.
The four-week series will take place Tuesdays from 12:30 to 2 p.m. via Zoom, and aims to teach basic words, introductions, the alphabet sound chart and colours and numbers. The cost is $20 per class, but the fee is waived for elders and seniors. Casey said discounts are also available to those who may need it.
Links to sign up for the classes are available on the friendship centre’s Facebook page, or by calling 250-706-0385.
As the board members finalize plans for reopening in early July, Urquhart said she and many others in the community are excited to reconnect after being apart for so many months.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all the old friends and people we haven’t seen for so long.”