Cariboo Friendship Society celebrates renovations, 51 years of service in Williams Lake

The Cariboo Friendship Society recently celebrated its 51st anniversary and completed renovations. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
The placement of the outdoor mural was made to feel as if inside a pit house. On the mural is a medicine man and Chief Nariah (Dog Creek), Chief Quib Quarisa (Alkali Lake), Chief Ta O Task (Canoe Creek), Chief Se Askut (Shuswap), Chief Timpt Khan (Babine Lake), Chief Sikosalish (Lillooet), Chief William (Williams Lake), Chief Kam Eo Satize (Soda Creek) and Chief Sosastumpt (Bridge Creek). (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Various improvements have been made to the exterior of the Cariboo Friendship Society in downtown Williams Lake. (Rebecca Dyok photo)

The party may have been small but it did not stop the Cariboo Friendship Society from celebrating recently completed renovations and 51 years of offering holistic services in Williams Lake.

“It went great,” executive director Rosanna McGregor said of the celebration hosted Tuesday, Sept 22, in which board members gathered inside at the Hearth Restaurant.

Having considerably expanded over the years since launching in 1969, McGregor added the society is always interested in development and is currently looking at developing a possible housing project within the city.

“We have property that we’re interested in doing some social housing on so we’re just waiting for all of the calls to come together with BC Housing, and especially the urban Aboriginal initiatives,” she said.

Outside, noticeable improvements to the society’s facility on Third Avenue South have been made including the replacement of the roofs, stucco siding, windows and air take units.

Read More: Longhouse proposed for possible COVID-19 housing in Williams Lake

The improvements totalling at least $3.5 million commenced two and a half years ago, and had also included renovations to the kitchen and elevators.

“There was an assessment that was completed by BC Housing and this will help to improve the longevity of our building, and it should help us to continue to operate for the next 35 years,” McGregor said.

As board members posed for a group photo in front of a mural depicting a medicine man and the nine chiefs from Canoe Creek, Williams Lake, Dog Creek, Alkali Lake, Shuswap, Babine Lake, Lillooet, Soda Creek and Bridge Creek who went to went to Victoria to express their concerns on what was happening in the region with their settlements, society founder George Keener was also celebrated for his $1,500 contribution to the mural.

Read More: Downtown Williams Lake whale mural goes ahead without blessing of city council

McGregor said the outdoor mural compliments the one inside showcasing four exceptional women including self-taught Indigenous midwife Augusta, domestic abuse survivor Chiwid, past executive director Marg Ahdmar and society board member Liz Robertson.

“We just wanted to make sure that we could celebrate that we’ve been here for 51 years and the work that we’ve been doing, and be proud of our culture and celebrate our grand reopening with all of the completion of the renovations.”

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