The third annual Wellness Gathering, organized by Winds of Change to promote health and community in the Pemberton Valley, drew 423 participants to the Ullus Community Centre at Mount Currie on Nov. 7.
Winds of Change is a collaborative initiative of the Mount Currie Band and the Village of Pemberton to reduce the harm associated with drug and alcohol misuse, with representatives meeting four times a year — and the Wellness Gathering is the main public event, a trade show with workshops and an awards banquet to thank supporters.
Sheldon Tetreault, the chair of Winds of Change, described it as an opportunity for community members to catch up with friends and concentrate on learning more about drug and alcohol misuse and how the community combats it.
“It was really, really excellent. It went smoothly, especially since we had to move the day a few weeks ago. There was a lot of people around, it had a nice energy,” Tetreault said.
“It’s about bringing people together, raising awareness around addictions and the services available.”
There were 30 tradeshow exhibitors, five interactive demonstrations and five healthy living workshops, including one about talking to teens and youth about bullying and another about cooking on a budget.
The festival alternates between Pemberton and Mount Currie each year.
“For each of the three years the attendance has been about the same, which is great for a weekday. This year, we had more tradeshow exhibitors,” Tetreault said.
Dozens also attended the evening dinner and recognition awards ceremony, where Lindsay May of BananaMay BODYWORKS, Pemberton & District Library, represented by Marnie Simon and Shannon Ellis, and Henry McDermott, who performs puppet shows that teach children lessons on how to take care of themselves and runs youth gatherings, were honoured for their work.
Lil’wat Nation chief Lucinda Phillips, Pemberton mayor Jordan Sturdy and Squamish-Lillooet Regional District Area C director Susie Gimse presented the awards.
“With the awards and dinner, it shines a light on some of the local people who toil away for most of the year. Most of us don’t see what they do, but they’re out there and contributing a lot to the health and wellness of our community, so this is an opportunity to recognize and honour them,” Tetreault said.
“There were 30 to 40 drummers that played and sang songs to all of the nominees to honour them. That’s spontaneous, not programmed. It really is quite special.”
The not only builds and strengthens the relationship and respect between Pemberton and Mount Currie but also Area C, which includes D’Arcy and N’Quatqua and then down the lake with Semahquam and Skatin, he added.
“We’re trying to build social inclusion. There’s a lot of research around that shows that when people are isolated or not part of their community, these are barriers to them either accessing services or they lose out on the social network that helps people get through difficult times,” Tetreault said.