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.

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

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

Just Posted

Bhagwan Mayer. (Photo submitted)
Organizer of transporting the World’s Largest Hockey Stick to Cowichan remembered

Bhagwan Mayer a “hard-working fellow who cared about his community.”

Pnina Benyamini strikes a yoga pose. (Photo submitted)
Many facets to energetic woman’s legacy

Benyamini taught yoga, belly dancing and more to an adoring public

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

Island Health’s acting medical health officer for the central Island says schools are very safe, even after COVID-19 exposure at five schools in Nanaimo-Ladysmith this month. (File photo)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith and Qualicum superintendents ask Island Health about COVID-19 safety at schools

Central Island medical health officer answers questions parents have been asking

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Parksville’s French Creek Harbour experienced a diesel spill on Nov. 23 after a barge and fishing vessel collided. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Coast Guard cleans up diesel spill in Parksville’s French Creek Harbour

Barge carrying fuel truck collides with fishing vessel

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Stock photo
Senior from Gibsons caught viewing child porn sentenced to 10 months

74-year-old pleaded guilty after police seized 1,500-2,500 images

Most Read