June 21 is Aboriginal Day in Canada. It is also the start of the 4th annual International Indigenous Leadership Gathering. This year the Gathering will be held at the Julianne Hall on T’it’q’et Reserve. The theme is "Protecting the Sacred” – featuring the four themes of water, the ecosystem, prophecy, and spirituality. People literally, from all over the world come to camp together, to witness and share, and partake in presentations and discussions.
Darrel Bob reminds everyone, “This is a free Gathering: We will host you, and feed you, and look after you to the best of our ability. All we ask in return is you respect the land.”
The Gathering started in 2009 at the foot of Swena7em Mountain (Six Mile). In 2010, the Gathering was moved to Xaxl’ip, in Fountain Valley, where more than 1,000 persons attended. In 2011, almost 3,000 persons came.
The focus of the Gathering is spiritual. It is about renewing our connection to ceremony that connects us with our maker, ourselves, and those we interact with daily. It is through ceremony we become aware of, and in turn protect, what is sacred to us - our connection to Earth, air, water, and Creator-spirit. As Gerry Oldman reminds us, “As human beings, everything we have comes from the Earth. Our food, medicine, clothing, shelter, water,” everything.
“Our people are going to back to our own spiritual ways” says Kukwpi7 Mike Leach. “That is the first place to start.” The Gathering brings the diverse indigenous cultures from around the world together to share, teach, and promote their spiritual and sacred knowledge - to link the ancestors with the future generations through sacred ceremonies.
The Gathering is important because from continent to continent, the knowledge that has guided countless generations and connected the youth with their culture is at risk. This is sacred knowledge about relationships that connect us all in the circle of life, and many of the knowledge-keepers are passing on.
It is important for our children to grow up not solely in a material world; They also need to grow up in a spiritual world. Recognizing we are at this crossroads, the elders from many indigenous cultures have encouraged us to gather in a series of events throughout the world in fulfillment of the sacred prophecies of many different tribes and nations.
If we don’t gather to share and learn these teachings, soon the message could be lost. Through this Gathering, we encourage all people from all races to come learn about the prophecies and to protect the sacred relationship we have with Mother Earth. All people, all nations, all faiths, one prayer.
Marie Barney comments, “Personally, I am grateful to be involved with designing the physical space to host learning, teachings, prophecies, and spirituality from all across the world.” All the materials used have been donated by Aspen Planners. The approach to preparing the grounds has been safety, bearing in mind that there have been a number of wildfires in recent years. We have paid extra attention to ensuring the event is a safe one. To be asked to work on a project this great is special.
This gathering promotes Respect, Reduce and Re-use, Recycle. By bringing your own eating utensils, this reduces garbage. To help with the cost, we are accepting monetary, and food donations. You can go to the nation office – 650 Industrial Place, or go to our website at www.iilg.ca. - to make a monetary donation. T’it’q’et Administration will accept food donations of food and for give-away gifts. Kukwstumúlhkal’ap and we hope to see you at the Gathering.
For more information: Darrel Bob, 250 256 7523; Marie Barney-250 256 4118, or firstname.lastname@example.org.