The Winds of Change Wellness Gathering is now scheduled for Wednesday in Mount Currie (Nov. 7) after the third annual event had to be postponed on short notice last week.
Winds of Change committee chair Sheldon Tetreault said a death in the Mount Currie community prompted the postponement, which has created some challenges for organizers, but shouldn’t have a major impact on the content of this year’s gathering.
Tetreault explained that the individual who passed away did not have a direct connection to the event, but that the Wellness Gathering was put on hold to observe a period of mourning within the Lil’wat Nation.
“It’s out of respect for the family,” said Tetreault. “It’s a cultural practice … most often when somebody passes away, this is what happens.”
Calling off the event within 24 hours of its original Oct. 25 date threw a bit of a wrench into plans, said Tetreault, but organizers were “really lucky” that partners involved understood the situation and were happy to adjust to a new date.
“Obviously, the Village of Pemberton and Lil’wat understand that this happens and they are very supportive,” said Tetreault. “But Vancouver Coastal Health has been really helpful and same with the Pemberton Rotary Club. They’ve been right there with us and understand that this is what you have to do in this kind of situation.”
Although the Nov. 7 gathering may have some adjustments to the original schedule, Tetreault said organizers are doing their best “to secure as much of the original lineup as possible” for Wednesday’s program.
“We had over 30 exhibitors (signed up) for our trade show. That’s local businesses and service providers, so hopefully most people can still do that,” he said. “We had seven workshop presenters and speakers that were really designed to appeal to quite a range of people — from front-line workers to youth and families and parents. We’re going through the last (details) to secure everyone for the new date.”
Among some of the presenters who were confirmed for the original date were Dr. Paul Martiquet, chief medical officer for the Sea to Sky region; TEDxKids speaker Zoya Jiwa, a Simon Fraser University student who gives talks on self-image; plus Dr. Art Hister, who was scheduled to deliver a keynote address on the topic of achieving longer and healthier lives.
Tetreault added that organizers are still expecting a big turnout for the evening dinner, at which the Winds of Change recognition awards will be presented.
In past years, as many as seven awards were handed out during the gathering, but the program has been modified this year, with three individuals being honoured.
“We wanted to go more general in terms of the spirit and intent of the Winds of Change and (leave it) a little more open-ended,” said Tetreault. “There are not a lot of, for example, service providers that you can highlight year after year in a small community. So it’s really trying to broaden the categories and get more people eligible to be nominated and recognized for their contributions.”
The Winds of Change was established in partnership between the local government agencies and First Nations in 2004 following the alcohol-related death of a young community member. The initiative aims to reduce the impacts of drug and alcohol abuse in the Pemberton Valley through education and the promotion of healthy alternatives.
The Wellness Gathering has been held annually since 2010, rotating host communities each year.
Wednesday’s program is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Ullus Community Complex. Visit www.thewellnessalmanac.com for full event details and to learn more about the Winds of Change.