It was a beautiful day by the Salmon River as some 300 people attended a traditional Secwepemc Gathering to celebrate World River’s Day.
Not only did the event raise some $1,400 for projects late elder Dr. Mary Thomas held dear, it brought together natives and non-natives in a hospitable and fun environment – with some visiting from as far away as Europe.
“I think the best part was just having everyone there,” said Mary’s daughter Bonnie. “There was information-trading, laughing – it’s very humbling. We really got the messages out that my mother wanted.”
A member of the Switzmalph Society, Bonnie was thrilled with the number of groups with whom the band is partnering in restoring and protecting the delta: Shuswap Tourism/CSRD, BC Environmental Farm Plan, Shuswap Trail Alliance, Shuswap Naturalists and WA:TER.
BC Redi funding obtained through Community Futures will also help move delta projects ahead.
“First and foremost to my mother was the importance of water – that’s where life begins, in the womb,” Bonnie said. “Water is also Mother Earth’s blood, it has the power to create, to move…
A welcome by Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson’s was followed by Shuswap Nation Tribal Council spokesperson Wayne Christian, who called for co-operation.
He took issue with governments he says spend billions of dollars fighting First Nations to the detriment of people and the environment.
“We’ve got to put people in public office that will work with First Nations,” he said. “There are four sacred nations – red, brown, black and white.”
Following other brief presentations, drumming, dancing and hilarious storytelling by Ken Thomas entertained a rapt audience. Others headed out on trail walks to learn more about the value of the river set to the rhythm of mother nature and native drumming.