Thousands arrive in Duncan for BC Elders Gathering

Thousands arrive in Duncan for BC Elders Gathering

WATCH: As many as 5,000 people will converge on a B.C. Elders Gathering in Duncan this week, to take home the oral history and wisdom of their people. The annual event travels across the province to share First Nations culture and instill it in the younger generation.

Passing on First Nations Culture from one generation to the next is the very heart of the B.C. Elders Gathering, that’s drawing as many as 5,000 people to Duncan’s Island Savings Centre.

“Just a good feeling that gives you,” said Elder Edie Nahanee Hanna. “To be surrounded by the lot of love and support that you see from the young ones and from the elders.”

“I don’t know them, but they love me,” said Elder Susan Abraham. “And I love them.”

Here elders are teaching the dancing, stories and language of nations from across B.C. so that their ancestors’ ways are never forgotten.

“They’ve got a lot of knowledge and information throughout their lives, through their ancestors before them,” said Cowichan Tribes member Louis Sylvester. “And it gets handed down from generation to generation.”

“It’s a beautiful thing for everybody to get together for these three days,” said Cowichan Tribes member Wally Jack. “For the elders its great.”

“I feel a level of spirituality here that I haven’t felt in a long time,” said Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak. “And it’s very beautiful.”

It’s a master class from the people who have lived through residential schools, the Sixties Scoop and now getting on in years they are alive still to see the regeneration of their culture and First Nations languages that were on the verge of dying with them.

“Over half of the languages in all of the country are here in British Columbia, indigenous languages,” said Scott Fraser B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations. “And the holders of the languages are very low for fluent language so we don’t have any time to waste.”

Over three intensive days in Duncan these elders will share what they know, have lived and the continuing challenges they face.

To advance their people one child at a time.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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