A Gathering of the Elders

By Staff Writers

About 3,000 natives from across Canada and the United States gathered at the Aboriginal Elders Conference in Saanich . The purpose of the annual conference was to explore and exchange
information on traditional healing and medicines.

Group of Elders
The conference also included seminars on health, as well as fashion shows.

Frazier Smith, the organizer of the conference, which is the largest native gathering on the Island, said he became involved because he saw a need for an event to help bridge the generation gap.

He also said that it is important that young people know that their culture is still alive. He wants youth to understand “that the languages are still there, the names are still there.”

Former chief of the Tsarlip Nation Tom Sampson says the conference was important because it ensures that traditions are passed on from elders to youth.

“It brings all of the elders together to talk about how best to provide information to the younger generation on their culture, history and
many of the spiritual ceremonies that our people used to do,” Sampson said.

“It’s to ensure that it’s carried on.”

Lieutenant-Governor Iona Campagnolo also made an appearance.

“This is a pooling of the generational stories and knowledge that passes between generations, strengthening the confidence of the people,” Campagnolo says.

“And so I feel that as Lieutenant-Governor, and as an elder myself, that it’s a good thing to show my support on behalf of all British Columbians.”

Smith says the most enjoyable aspect of the conference is connecting with people from other tribes and cities.

“The impact that it has on a lot of people is great. People go home knowing that I’ve seen my friend, my relative, that I haven’t seen for a long time.”