The Winds of Change honoured two individuals and two groups working closely with youth in the Pemberton-Mount Currie area during its signature annual event, handing out three Recognition Awards during the fourth edition of the Wellness Gathering on Saturday, Nov. 2.
Mount Currie band councillor and Xit'olacw Community School staff member Dean Nelson was honoured with one of the awards Saturday, while Pemberton Youth Centre coordinator Geoff Pross earned an award of his own. The youth soccer associations of Pemberton and Mount Currie were selected as co-recipients of the other Recognition Award.
The Winds of Change Steering Committee had a number of nominations to consider this year, receiving 40 submissions from community members looking to acknowledge the work of individuals or organizations promoting or contributing to healthy and active living in the Spud Valley.
Nelson was unavailable to receive his award on Saturday, but committee chair Sheldon Tetreault said at least one nominator described Nelson as "a hero" for the work that he does with young people.
"(Nelson) was commended for being a role model for so many of the youth in Mount Currie, for living a healthy lifestyle and modelling that (and) always working towards what's best for youth in the community," said Tetreault.
Pross said he was thrilled to be selected for the honour considering both the quantity and quality of those who were up for an award. But ultimately, Pross said the biggest rewards for him simply come along with his day-to-day work.
"Working with young people is amazing," Pross said after being named an award winner. "Seeing that period of life, there are so many eye-opening moments, so many new epiphanies (from) the growth that you see."
The Pemberton Youth Soccer Association has gone from humble beginnings more than 20 years ago to an organization that now includes hundreds of youth players and adult volunteers. For Mount Currie's soccer club, Brett Wallace's tireless work was especially highlighted, and it was perhaps fitting that he couldn't attend the Wellness Gathering because he was accompanying a team out of town.
"We're all very happy that we're able to share this award with Mount Currie," said Anne Crowley, a board member and co-founder of the Pemberton club.
The Winds of Change intends to honour all nominees in the coming weeks with a series of profile articles on its online Wellness Almanac blog.
Mount Currie Chief Lucinda Phillips said some extra acknowledgements would be made during an event scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 7. Phillips added that she was once again impressed overall by Saturday's event, which featured a trade show, guest speakers and special performances, including one by the Lil'wat's own Alex Wells, a three-time world champion hoop dancer.
"Because it's all about wellness, this event really highlights not only the talent within the communities, but also what the communities offer to the general public for your health and wellbeing," Phillips said of the event's significance. "That's what I really like about these — what they're able to share with us."