Chief Fred Robbins of the Esketemc First Nation had nothing but praise for the people of Esk’et who took on the immense challenge of being the host-community for the 2011 Secwepemc Gathering.
“I would like to thank the organizers and the volunteers of every event, who worked so very hard and diligently to provide the visitors with meals, drinks and common courtesy, which is invaluable,” Chief Robbins said. “From the fire keeper to the cleanup crew, all of those we never saw but who were a huge part of what made this such a good place to be for the three days of visiting and laughter.
“I would also like to thank those Secwepemc chiefs who made the effort and took the time to be part of the opening and closing ceremonies, and to those who stayed for the whole weekend. Those who participated in the Last Chief Standing Paintball Contest — yeah, Chief Hank and I represented ya’ll there; I can still hear the words ‘I’m hit’ ringing through the air in the hills around the paintball venue — ouch.”
Edna Robbins, who worked the main registration desk all weekend long (with her sister Robyn) estimates they had more than 400 guests officially register (many more attendees did not bother to register) during the weekend. Edna noted that manning the register meant that she and Robyn were not able to go to any other venues (except opening and closing ceremonies) but they enjoyed meeting everyone who came to register. Edna, who is a regular employee (receptionist/secretary) of the Esketemc First Nation said, “Staffing the registration desk for the gathering actually gave me the opportunity to put faces together with names from people that I have only spoken to over the phone for many years. That was fun, and we met a lot of new people from all over.”
The weather was a bit challenging at times with several cloudbursts dampening some events. The NiteHawks (formerly Creeshu) played at one of the evening dances in the pouring rain for the first half hour.
A slightly humorous observation from Chief Robbins was part of his closing speech, in which he encouraged future hosts of the Secwepemc Gathering to hold the event on the land (out in the countryside, as opposed to in a town centre).
“You’ll have noticed that no one here was interrupted by the ringing (or vibration) of any wireless devices during this gathering; it wasn’t that you all had turned them off; it was because they simply don’t work here at Esk’et, so nobody in attendance was to ‘do business.’ That allowed all of you the opportunity to visit without interruptions and enabled you to participate fully in the events and games of the gathering. That’s not a bad thing. Maybe future gatherings should also be held where there is no reception for those devices.”
The results for individual events and contests held during the Esketemc Secwepemc Gathering are as follows:
First: Rookies (Dog Creek); second: Sticks & Stones (Stone); and third: NDN’s (Williams Lake)
First: Tahnyea Robbins (Esk’et); second: Cynthia Paul (Esk’et); third: Rico (Frederck Johnson Jr. / Esk’et)
First: Johnson’s; second: Skeetch; third: Chilcotin Thunder
Lehel — Battle of the Bands
First: Simpcw; second: Esk’et; third: Canim Lake
Five km Ironman Moccasin Run (from Joe’s Lake Road- turnoff, back to main reserve)
First: Jahpa Belleau (Esk’et); second: Karen Harry (Dog Creek); third: Tommy Johnson (Esk’et); fourth: Pre7 Johnson (Francis) (Esk’et); fourth: Dave Sampson (Canoe Creek); and fifth: Bert Sampson (DogCreek)
Last Chief Standing – Paintball
First: Hank Adams (Dog Creek/Canoe Creek); second: Fred Robbins (Esk’et); and third: Mike Archie (Canim Lake).