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B.C.'s Elders Gathering in Penticton unique in Canada

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of Penticton reaches out to an audience member during the grand entry of the delegates to the 2014 BC Elders Gathering at the South Okanagan Events Centre. - Mark Brett/Western News
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of Penticton reaches out to an audience member during the grand entry of the delegates to the 2014 BC Elders Gathering at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

More than 3,500 people attended the 38th annual Elder’s Gathering in Penticton July 7 to 9, including Elders and dignitaries from across British Columbia.

The Penticton Indian Band hosted the gathering, which featured a wide range of events including workshops, guest speakers, entertainment, a traditional feast and Pow Wow and Elders dance and social.

The annual Elders’ gathering is unique to B.C. and is not duplicated in any other region of Canada according to Vera Gabriel, who along with her husband Emory were Queen and King for this year’s event.

“That is all it is, a B.C. gathering and nobody else has one,” she told the Penticton Western News. This year, organizers made it the first national gathering and also invited Elders from Washington State.

The reason for the event, the Gabriels say, is to draw together Elders, giving them a chance to share ideas and make contact with their peers from other communities. It’s also an opportunity to socialize, have some fun and regenerate themselves for future work.

The closing ceremonies included passing the baton, or in this case a totem, on to the Tsawout nation from Vancouver Island, which has been chosen to host the 2015 gathering.

The event attracts a number of high profiles sponsors including the following:

Presenting sponsors: Penticton Indian Band, Annual BC Elders Gathering Society, First Nations Health Authority.

Co-Supporting Sponsors: Government of British Columbia, BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, New Relationship Trust, OXT Energy Corp, BC Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation

Media Sponsor: Black Press

King and Queen Host Partner: Royal Bank of Canada

Diamond Sponsor: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Platinum Sponsors: Arrow Lakes Aboriginal Society, Yellowridge Construction Ltd, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

Gold Sponsors: BC Hydro, Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, Pacific Trail Pipelines, Fortis BC

Silver Sponsors: AMEC, Britco, Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Cenovus Energy, City of Penticton, Global Spectrum, Greyback Construction Ltd, JJM, Mining Association of British Columbia, Mandell Pinder LLP, Kinder Morgan CanadaTransmountain, New Gold, Prince Rupert Port Authority, QTM Logistics Ltd, Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, Save On Foods/ Overwaitea Food Group, Skaha Ford, Sodexo Canada Ltd, Spectra Energy, Tech Resources Limited, Westbank First Nation, Progress Energy Canada Ltd, Kitimat LNG/Chevron/Apache, Canadian National Railway

Community Sponsors: Aboriginal Travel Services, Bank of Montreal, Broughton Law, Canadian Dehua International Mines Group Inc, Canadian Pressure Control, Emil Anderson Construction Inc.,  Enowkin Centre, Iredale Architects, Klohn Crippen Berger, Neil Squire Society, Nestle Waters Canada, Pannu Brothers Trucking Ltd, Quickcoach Lines Ltd/ Charter Bus Lines, Snpinktn Forestry LP, South Okanagan Concrete Products, Suncor Energy/ Petro Canada Corporation, Unitex, Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corporation, Osoyoos Indian Band

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