Some of the participants gather around a window to look at the storm surrounding the Vancouver Island Mountain Centre during their Indigenous Winter Wellness Retreat. Photo supplied.

Wilderness retreat turns wild for nine families on Mount Washington

The goal was to encourage families to get outside and reconnect with their culture.

The intent for nine Indigenous families a few weeks ago was to escape to the wild side of Mount Washington – to do some winter activities, meal workshops, nature study and to learn about their culture and bond with family and friends.

The 30 people as part of the Indigenous Winter Wellness Retreat got all of that – and more – after a snowstorm developed on Jan. 17 when the group settled in at the Vancouver Island Mountain Centre.

RELATED: Mountain centre open with praise for design

The retreat, in its first year, was created by the Indigenous Parents Advocacy Club with the goal of encouraging families to get outside and embrace winter and reconnect with their culture.

One of the retreat’s organizers, Brenda Beatson said as the group headed up the mountain Jan. 17, the weather was rather uneventful.

“However, the weather changed quickly and just after the bus unloaded and the participants were getting settled in their rooms, the wind picked up and the snow started falling. As the hours drifted by, the snowstorm worsened. Soon we could no longer see the parking lot below nor our vehicles.”

Beatson noted as the storm started progressing, everyone started to get concerned.

“Some got scared, excited, mesmerized. Some adults in their 60s had never even seen a storm like this. There was a whole mix of emotions.”

As the storm increased in intensity, some uncertainty began to set in with the group, but Beatson explained an elder whom she invited along began to set up for a smudging ceremony.

“All of a sudden, a calm came over the building, and everyone became enthralled by his teaching. He got one of the young boys to do the smudging ceremony – that’s something that elders do.”

She said there was a soothing, mellow calm that came over the group – they knew by the smudging the group was protected.

“We just knew we were going to be okay and we felt that we were all together – we felt safe. There was storytelling for four hours, and it made the storm not seem so bad anymore.”

As part of the weekend, the group had planned for LUSH Valley Food Action Society to visit during the weekend to teach them about low-budget, healthy meals for families, but due to the weather, LUSH personnel were unable to reach the mountain.

Beatson said once again, the elders got together and examined the group’s food supply, and created a ‘winter storm soup’ from leftovers, some veggies and meat the group had with them in order to feed 30 people.

After the storm subsided, the group was able to experience some winter activities including tobogganing and snowshoeing.

“We didn’t let the storm stop us. By late afternoon the SARS Adventure Smart facilitator managed to make it up the mountain road and walk through three feet of snow uphill for the presentation of being adventure smart in nature,” Beatson added.

“Our group wants to thank Mother Earth for stranding us up on a mountain top, for isolating us within (her) grasp and teaching us that as a community we can provide, nurture and comfort one another when there is adversity.”

For more information, call 250-331-4040 or email Indigenous.Education@sd71.bc.ca.



photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

First Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A participant and an Elder share a moment earlier this month during the Indigenous Winter Wellness Retreat. Photo supplied

Just Posted

‘Marvelous Wonderettes’ sets high bar for Chemainus Theatre season

The script is perfect for Chemainus’s small stage

Thieves steal 6-foot gas pump from Duncan yard

Theft took place overnight on Feb. 6 or into the early morning hours of Feb. 7.

Cowichan school briefs: Koala fundraiser, gravity cars, trades grants, and academic award

There’s been a lot of activity within the Cowichan Valley School District schools

Cowichan Typhoons top Fernandes tourney

Cowichan’s own Typhoons finished atop the standings at the annual Malcolm Fernandes… Continue reading

New Cairnsmore roundabout to be constructed this year

Roundabout will be the City of Duncan’s first

Pipeline dispute: Tories put no-confidence motion on House of Commons agenda

Conservatives say they have no confidence in the Trudeau government to end the rail blockades

Original Victoria Clipper vessel sails one last time

Vessel sold to buyers in Gabon, Central Africa

B.C.’s soda drink tax will help kids lose weight, improve health, says doctor

Dr. Tom Warshawski says studies show sugary drinks contribute to obesity

A&W employees in Ladysmith get all-inclusive vacation for 10 years of service

Kelly Frenchy, Katherine Aleck, and Muriel Jack are headed on all-expenses-paid vacations

B.C. mom’s complaint about ‘R word’ in children’s ministry email sparks review

In 2020, the ‘R’ word shouldn’t be used, Sue Robins says

Two new hybrid BC Ferries ships christened with new names in Victoria ceremony

Island Aurora and Island Discovery will service Gulf Island and North Island routes

B.C., federal ministers plead for meeting Wet’suwet’en dissidents

Scott Fraser, Carolyn Bennett says they can be in Smithers Thursday

Province shows no interest in proposed highway between Alberta and B.C.

Province says it will instead focus on expanding the Kicking Horse Canyon to four lanes

Victoria police ask victims of human trafficking to come forward after Saskatchewan arrests

Four people from Vancouver Island were arrested in Saskatchewan on Jan. 28

Most Read