Wrapping Up 2019 @ KBC
Happy 2020. Strange to reflect back on the past few months while many people are focused on New Year’s Resolutions and all their new plans for the coming year. However, in my case, there were several ‘new’ experiences for me and KBC in 2019 and especially during the busy Fall quarter.
Lheidli T’enneh Nation Balhats
On Friday, November 29, 2019 the Lheidli T’enneh Nation hosted an All-Clans Balhats (Potlatch) to celebrate a unique partnership with School District 57 (Prince George). It was the first Balhats hosted in Lheidli Territory in over 70 years and a key step toward regaining their traditional governance system. Much of the Fall was spent planning and preparing for the Balhats. A special committee of Lheidli Elders, members and staff met regularly with staff from the SD57 and the Aboriginal Education Department to ensure everything went smoothly.
The Balhats was live-streamed to allow Lheidli members who could not attend to view the historic event. It also drew considerable media attention including a feature piece on APTN National News (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) and it was on all the Prince George media. An 8-minute video is posted on the Lheidli T’enneh Facebook Page and it is still getting viewed on a regular basis. Social media monitoring by the City of Prince George determined that it was the most shared, liked and re-shared social media story in Prince George for 2019!
During the closing portion of the Balhats, principals came forward to receive a Lheidli T’enneh flag and a plaque (see below) to be displayed in each school in Lheidli Territory. The smiles on the faces of Chief and Council as they greeted each principal to gift them a flag and plaque spoke volumes. The smiles on the faces of the principals expressed their gratitude at being able to witness the historic event and learn more about the Balhats that was outlawed for many decades in Canada. A small step towards reconciliation and a huge step forward for the Lheidli T’enneh Nation.
Nowh Guna Tseh (First) Carrier Competency Training
On November 6 & 7, 2019, I joined 25 media, public relations, and indigenous services staff to enjoy cultural competency training provided by Carrier Sekani Family Services. The training was originally designed primarily for the non-indigenous staff at CSFS who provide health, wellness, and counselling services to CSFS member communities. It’s now policy that all CSFS staff must take the training as part of their employment. Earlier this year, the organization decided to make the two-day workshop available to external organizations in both the public and private sectors which is how the Media & PR Practitioners session came to pass.
I thought after 30+ years in media and public relations in Northern BC I had learned enough to be useful but alas, there is always more we can all learn about the history and practices of all indigenous communities and nations in BC and across Canada. We learned more about Carrier and Sekani culture, knowledge and traditions including the importance of the Balhats (Potlatch). Carrier and Sekani communities are located across Central British Columbia. Topics covered included; traditional governance, culture, language, spiritual practices, clans, hereditary chiefs and participation in a practice balhats. Participants are presented with a fabulous reference book titled /Nowh Guna’/Our Way. If you ever get the opportunity to take the two-day cultural competency training offered by CSFS, you will be glad you did!
For more information about the Carrier Cultural Competency Training, and to register, click here.
Proud Volunteer for the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS)
Part of the Fall season required me to attend conference calls and respond to email enquiries for three committees associated with the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS). CPRS is one of the professional organizations in Canada that provides support, professional development training and certifications to those of us in the public relations sector. I’m a proud member of the CPRS College of Fellows Yocom Profiles Committee, the newly formed CPRS College of Fellows Mentorship Committee and what has become the Board of the CPRS Foundation which annually provides a variety of scholarships to outstanding PR students in Canadian colleges and universities. I mean if you can’t play much golf during the Fall and Winter seasons in Northern BC you might as well find a worthwhile organization to volunteer with right? CPRS has given so much to me since I joined the Northern Lights Chapter in 1999 including my accreditation (APR) in 2003 and my acceptance into the College of Fellows in 2012. I still enjoy glancing occasionally at my CPRS Diamond Jubilee Award – Mentor of the Year which I received in 2010 in recognition of my mentorship of PR practitioners in advancing their careers.
As I move forward in 2020, I take from my Fall 2019 experience that we’re never too old to learn and never too busy to give back to organizations that help sustain us. Cheers.