2013 Conference Highlights

AHSABC 2013 Annual Conference celebrated Weaving our Culture and languages in all we do. We gathered in the traditional Stó:lō Coast Salish First Nation territory at Harrison Hot Springs, where we were immersed in the natural surroundings, learning and celebrating together.

We shared many learning opportunities in workshops and outings including:

  • Seven Sacred Teachings
  • Talk with Me: a collaborative approach to creating a language rich environment
  • Journey to Healthy Eating – Being Better For Our Kids
  • Seabird island Head Start program tour
  • Sasquatch Tours
  • A celebration of our culture through crafts and games, singing and dancing

Keynote speakers during the week were Steven Point and Gwen Point. Their words of wisdom inspired us in our work with children.

“In the olden days, parenting was done collectively in the longhouse. Parents were encouraged to have kids when they were young and healthy, but they were not smart enough or experienced enough to raise them. These young people were needed to hunt and gather food for the community.

The Elders had the time, wisdom and patience to raise the children. They recognized the ‘Elders Returning’ in these small persons and taught them according to their past life experiences. They helped the young ones find their place in the circle as canoe builders, medicine person and so on. Everyone was treated as equals.

Now, instead of the longhouse, our children go to the Aboriginal Head Start centres where the Elders and staff have the time, wisdom, patience and the training to teach them the ‘Script of Life.’ Through stories, songs and ceremonies, they teach the children our values and world views. The children learn by observation and modeling that to be successful, they must be honest, kind, humble, hard working and respectful.”

- Steven Point (Xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl): OBC, former Lieutenant Governor of BC, and Elder of the Stó:lō Nation

“In our community, wealth isn’t about money or cars or houses. It’s about family… but in the larger community, education is important. Programs like Head Start did not exist 25 years ago. You would not be sitting in this group playing drums, making cedar baskets, celebrating our culture so you could teach the children… You only have to look at our history to understand our people’s struggle today. So many of us were taught that we are not good enough, but we are good enough. We are spiritual people. That’s what they tried to take from us.

We are all spiritual people with different gifts. How can our children be proud if we are not? We need to learn who we are by immersing ourselves in our culture with our children. We were told that the 5th generation would turn back to our traditions. These are today’s children and they will be our leaders in 20 years…

It’s not what you teach, but how you teach it. Good mind; good heart.

- Gwen Point: Professor at University of the Fraser Valley, Pioneer in Aboriginal Education in the BC School System, Elder of the Stó:lō Nation

Inez Jasper entertained us along with Native singer/drummer, ‘Big Phil’ Lockerby. Winners of a dance contest received a free CD! Watch the video.
Elder Fred John led the group in powwow drumming. Watch the video.
Kelsey Charlie and The Stsailes Sasquets Dancers closed the conference after a wonderful week of sharing, learning, and celebrating together. Watch the video.

Many thanks to Future 4 Nations AHS for coordinating the cultural program.