The Stz’uminus First Nation is making an old tradition new again.
For the first time in more than 25 years, a community Christmas dinner was held at the Stz’uminus community centre on Shell Beach Road Dec. 14.
Close to 500 attendees were treated to a wonderful turkey dinner with all the trimmings, cooked by Faye Sampson and her family.
“This was giving us a chance to gather in positive atmosphere and come together as a community and enjoy a meal together for the holiday season,” said event co-ordinator Stephanie Harris.
During the event, children from newborns to age 10 were given a chance to meet Santa and receive a gift. Youths aged 11 to 16 were handed gift cards.
According to Harris, 160 presents were given out, and a total of 80 gift cards were handed out during the event.
“Watching the kids getting their gifts and how excited they were was amazing,” she said. “The attendance numbers we had totally exceeded anything I had imagined.”
Harris has fond memories of the community dinners held back in the 1980s at the Sportsplex (Frank Jameson Community Centre).
Teenagers and youth back then looked forward to performing in the talent shows. Harris, now 41, recalls being 16 years old and lip-syncing to tunes like ‘Leader of the Pack.’
“The girls were wearing poodle skirts and cardigans and fixed our hair like we were in the 60s,” she said. “That’s what we remember most is getting up on stage and entertaining people.
“We rehearsed and sang and everything.”
And that reminiscing amongst friends was exactly what got the ball rolling on bringing the tradition back.
In October, chief and council announced that they would be funding a Christmas celebration, and Harris stepped up to the plate to organize it.
“I work within the community, and this was something I had been wanting to do,” said Harris, a training co-ordinator for the Stz’uminus First Nation.
“It was hard work, but I enjoyed it.”
She said the Christmas dinner is a much-needed event to help keep spirits high within the community and looks forward to continuing the tradition next year.
“Sometimes when we gather in this building it’s not always on good terms,” Harris said, referring to funerals held at the community centre.
A ‘Stz’uminus Has Talent’ show was organized for the dinner but was cancelled due to low participation. Harris said she is hopeful to revive that portion of the celebration in the future.