Friday, August 17, 2007

Friendship has much to celebrate next year

A 50th anniversary and a giant gathering of elders will top the caldendar for Friendship House in 2008.

Wednesday's Daily News examined the work required to bring together the plans for the elders gathering as well as what to expect for the Friendship House's anniversary.

Planning underway for elders gathering
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The 2008 British Columbia Elders Gathering in Prince Rupert next summer will be coinciding with the Friendship House's 50th anniversary, something George Sampson is quite happy about.

"I'm pretty sure Farley [Stewart] has a couple things up his sleeve for it," said Sampson.

"Obviously one of the great promotions we can have for the anniversary is the gathering. Opening up our doors, welcome people to come down and see and experience what we've got here in our centre, recognizing the beauty of it and the programs we ran, the people we served, and our prominence in the community."

Sampson knows the amount of work that's required going into planning something of this magnitude, and he's already begun pondering the logistics.

"There's a lot of work to be done, you've got to feed a lot of people, house a lot of people, entertain a lot of people," he said.

"I'm thinking about what we can do to improve upon it, but until we sit down with the planning committee, it's all just thoughts in my mind. We've got to put pen to paper and put a date to it, which is the most important part of it. Are we going to have it in early July when the salmon is running? In the later part of August before Labour Day weekend, so that way people can facilitate their break?"

One of the largest concerns for hosting the Elder's Gathering is organizing enough volunteers to facilitate an event of its magnitude, something not as easily done in the summer months.
"The worst would probably be right in the middle of summer when a good 50 per cent of our volunteers are working in the cannery," said Sampson.

"I believe when our King and Queen, Leonard and Mona Alexcee, get back from checking out some medical issues, we'll send out a notice to the public stating we're inviting all the stakeholders, concerned citizens and everybody who's interested to come and help out in one way or another."

The first community committee meeting is yet to be scheduled, but Sampson is hopeful there will be set dates agreed upon as a result of it.

While the Alexcees are still down in Vancouver, Sampson did have a chance to speak with them about their experiences at last week's gathering.

"We went to the one in Port Alberni the year before, where they had anywhere from 2,100 to 2,200 delegates, so experiencing this one ( in 2007) going up even bigger, their experience was really something to behold," said Sampson. "From the gathering, there were a lot of good things happening. One of the things everyone was hearing is to continue to make it fun, and not to go way over and try to do things out of the mandate."

Not only do elders from across the province get together to talk about the issues affecting all communities such as health concerns, but also for fun activities like story telling, weaving, and a lot of entertainment.

"As well as fun stuff for tourists, and promoting the museum, the whale watching, and obviously we all know the casino is going to make money," added Sampson. "So it'll be an honour to have it in Prince Rupert, and we're really thankful for the city and all their contributions."

Stay tuned to find out when the first community meeting will be held to set a date for the 2008 B.C. Elders Gathering.

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