Sober(er) for October: One Community’s Journey


The Sober(er) for October campaign is inclusive of everyone on their self-determined recovery journey, including those who prefer a harm-reduction approach as well as those who prefer abstinence. In our culture(s), storytelling is an important aspect of overall health and wellness of our people.


The Secwepemc community of Esk'etemc First Nations has a compelling story of healing and recovery that has been an inspiration for decades. From the 1950s to the '70s, the small village (which was known back then as Alkali Lake and home to about 500 people) had an adult alcoholism rate of 100 percent. Even some of the young people were beginning to drink.

In 1972, the Esk'etemculucw (people of the Esk'etemc) started their turnaround towards recovery. Members of the community joined healing programs and attended treatment centres, supporting each other throughout their healing and recovery journeys. By 1986, adults in the community had reached more than 95 percent maintaining sobriety. The story is re-enacted in a movie titled “Honour of All."

A part of a Healing Movement

In 1976, a group of four members started a Round-Up event to celebrate their sobriety, an event that has carried on to the present day. The event is an opportunity for those who participate in a 12-step program to gather, share stories of resilience, and work towards their health and wellness goals. The Round-Up includes a weekend camp-out that provides an option to connect to the lands and water with others in recovery. In addition to the meetings about sobriety, guests can also take part in traditional ceremonies, including a sweat lodge.

Since its inception 45 years ago, the Esk'etemc Round Up has grown and welcomed more than 2,000 people from across the province, the country, and even visitors from Australia, China, Mexico and the United States. It has been an inspiring event that crosses cultures and enhances community healing and support.   

The Round-Up is returning!

Due to the BC wildfire seasons and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Esk'etemc Round-Up has been cancelled for the past few years. Community and event leaders are looking forward to celebrating its 42nd event upon its return – likely in July 2022.​

The Round-Up is made possible by about 40 volunteers from the host community and neighbouring Nations. The volunteers provide a respectful and hospitable environment, including offering three meals per day, including a traditional feast to honour the healing journey of the participants.

What makes the Round-Up work?

One of the goals for the event is for participants to feel welcomed and safe, while providing services for those who need additional support. The Round Up's 12-step program meetings support individual's recovery, through an abstinence approach, who are living with alcohol-use disorder, and challenges associated with alcohol during their recovery journey.

Throughout the weekend, meetings include guest speakers who share stories of resilience, hope, and tools to support others on their journey. During these meetings, each person is surrounded by a network of people who support an abstinence lifestyle and bring a positive change in their social network. Participants are able to receive peer support through the sharing of their lived experiences. Sharing individual stories reminds people that they are not alone in their challenges and that there is a community available to support them.

With a safe space for vulnerability, participants of the Round-Up can experience and connect with cultural and traditional components offered by the Esk'etemculucw, such as the sweat lodges, drumming, praying to the Creator/their Higher Power, and singing.

Entertainment includes a live band for everyone to enjoy.

If you are interested in learning more about the annual event, please email​

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