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42nd BC Elders’ Gathering Kicks Off in Cowichan: ‘I tst ‘o’ hwun’ ‘I (We are Still Here)

​​​​​​​​​​For Immediate Release


COWICHAN TERRITORY – DUNCAN, BC – 4,000 First Nations Elders from across BC will be in Cowichan Tribes territory July 10-12 to attend the 42nd Annual BC Elders' Gathering at Island Savings Centre. The event will focus on Elder health and wellness, and celebrating culture and resilience with the theme of 'I tst 'o' hwun' 'I (We are Still Here).

"We are looking forward to welcoming family, friends and relatives and celebrating 'I tst 'o' hwun' 'I (We are Still Here)," said Ed and Juanita Elliott, the 2017-2018 Elders' Gathering King and Queen.

The Elders' Gathering brings wisdom keepers together to celebrate their culture and make connections, while learning through workshops and discussions. It is an opportunity for Elders to nurture their spirit and mental and physical wellness through health check-ups. The event will also include a traditional fashion show, evening entertainment, vendors and more.

"I tst 'o' hwun' 'I (We are Still here) is our theme, we hope you are looking forward to spending time with family and making new friends and enjoying the many opportunities provided at this event. This is truly a time for Elders to gather and celebrate," said Chief William (Chip) Seymour of Cowichan Tribes. "Our Organizers and partners hope Elders enjoy themselves and nurture their spirit over the three days, connecting with one another and gaining inspiration as Elders for their special role they have in community. Cowichan Tribes encourages all attendees to share their wisdom, culture and history."

Elder health and wellness is central to the event. There are many opportunities for health checkups and places for Elders to relax, as well as a number of workshops planned in collaboration with Cowichan Elders and the First Nations Health Authority. They will include information about managing pain in arthritis care, gut health, forgiveness and healing, and healthy cooking. Quiet rooms are set up to provide a place for physical and mental rest and comfort. Join the Kwun'atsustul (hand in hand) team members for mental health first aid, some calming activities, or tips to promote your own self-care. The Mesachie room is set up for you to come rest, relax and put your feet up.

An important feature of the Elders Gathering includes the Bidding for the Totem Pole. This process provides a unique opportunity for a BC First Nation community to host the 2019 43rd Annual BC Elders Gathering. Cowichan Tribes is accepting community bids from all BC First Nations to host this important annual gathering in 2019. If your community is interested and excited to host the 2019 BC Elders Gathering you must be able to meet some criteria including (1) community support and (2) reasons for hosting. Please send your formal Bidding for the Totem Pole to host the 2019 43rd Annual BC Elders Gathering to: and include in the Subject Line - Bidding for the Totem Pole or call 236-800-6072.

There will be a Polling Station for the Bidding for the Totem Pole at the BC Elders Gathering on July 10 and 11 with final voting ending on July 11 at 5:00 pm. The 2019 host community for the 43rd Annual BC Elders Gathering will be announced on the morning of Thursday, July 12 along with the formal confirmation of the new BC Elders Gathering King and Queen. There will be a formal and traditional cultural ceremony in which King Ed Elliott and Queen Juanita Elliott and Cowichan Tribes will pass on the official titles, regalia, treasure box, and gifts.​


Media Contacts:

​Clarissa Peter, Media Contact


FNHA Media

For More Information:

BC Elders Gathering: 

First Nations Health Authority:

Watch #EldersSpeak Video Series – a conversation between our generations – filmed at the 2015 and 2016 Elders Gatherings, with the Youth Responses  shared at the 2016 Gatherings Our Voices Youth Conference:​hySWWmuoT 

Download this media release in PDF format here (PDF 14​6 KB)

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