The chair of the 40th B.C. Elders Gathering said he is impressed with the co-operative effort that’s gone into hosting the event in Williams Lake.
“A highlight has been people getting together to make a difference,” Cecil Grinder said Wednesday morning at the Cariboo Memorial Complex in between visiting with as many elders as he could. “It’s not just our native communities it’s the city of Williams Lake too. I’m very impressed with the outcome and everyone’s interest in what we are trying to do here.”
By Wednesday, registration had climbed to about 2,200 elders, plus chaperones and family members accompanying them.
“Then we’ve got the local volunteers and people coming in from all over,” Grinder said. “I think we are looking at 4,000 to 5,000 people. And I thank our volunteers because they are the ones that have made this possible.”
Grinder has been receiving lots of pats on the back for the food being served at the gathering and said he made sure to pass on the compliments to the cooks.
“At breakfast, lunch and supper I went in and gave them pats on the back and told them I was getting credit for what they were doing,” he said chuckling. “Even the vendors at the arts and craft venues were surprised when I thanked them for being here.
“I told them that’s who we are as Tsilhqot’in, Shuswap, Carrier, St’at’imc and Nuxalk people,” Grinder said as he went on to explain when his community of Tletinqox put in the bid to host the gathering they asked all the surrounding four neighbouring tribes to co-host with them.
Winning the bid was also a way to give back to the economy of Williams Lake, he added.
“Williams Lake is made out of mining, forestry and native people — that’s what supports the economy.,” Grinder said. We’re just trying to get more recognition for the part we play and what we bring to the economy.. It’s all about building bridges for the Native and Non-Native community to get together.”