A West Coast Adventure: Part 1

Two weeks ago, I had an amazing opportunity to present at the ACCC Serving Indigenous Learners and Communities Symposium. It was held in the territory of the Coast Salish people, beautiful Vancouver, BC.  The whole trip was a bit of a whirl wind, but I’m happy to report it was productive, informative, and fun! My trip was packed with such a variety of experiences into the one trip that it wouldn’t be fair to jam it all into one blog so, I’ll start with PIB and work on the Symposium separately later.

How I wound up in Penticton? That’s another story, but basically my colleague Jeanie works with them on some Economic Development projects. When I told her I was going to be in Vancouver and wanted to work on our chapter of the textbook, she invited me to meet up with her in Penticton instead. So I did. I loved my whole visit in the beautiful Okanagan area, but I’ll share only some of the highlights.

Thursday night I arrived in Penticton Lakeside Resort.  I checked into the hotel and it turns out I had been randomly selected as the “Guest of the Day” which meant a room upgrade, free valet parking, 2 bottles of water, a chocolate chip cookie and an apple. (The apple was delicious at 5 am when I woke up starving and 4 hours ahead.)

Friday the Chief Johnathan Krugar of Penticton Indian Band (PIB) toured me around his beautiful community. To say he was proud of his community is an understatement.  He was genuinely excited about the wonderful things he and his community members were engaged in.

 He was enthusiastic about green, environmentally responsible, economic development. We talked about super energy efficient houses on reserve, a project that won an award this year from Canadian Home Builders Association for the Most Innovative Certified Home. This project is just one piece of grand plan to be a more energy efficient community. Another piece is use of solar power in the school. Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School is beautiful and impressive for a number of reasons. The students were energetic and the staff friendly. But, no wonder they’re happy; they have this spectacular view, gardens in the back that the students helped build, and a green house.  Inside is an environment  of culture, language, learning, and sharing.

We also went to the band office, where I was given a copy of their comprehensive community plan.  After that it was off to Skaha Hills site of future residential golfing community.  On our way down the hill is where I spotted a beautiful mountain sheep herd, and then the Spirit Sheep emerged from the group. It just made my day.   

Finally we had lunch back at my hotel, with others from the band. I shared with them all about CBU and some Membertou experiences, and they regaled me with more wonderful stories about PIB and Economic Development. I left energized and inspired, and thankful for the experience. It was very generous of Chief  Kruger to take a few hours out of his day to entertain a stranger from the east coast, but I understand why. He spoke and I knew he is truly proud of his community; members who running their own businesses in metal working and construction, students who are energetic and enthusiastic, and the great team of people he has working with him in the band office. He also invited me back for Aboriginal Business Match 2014, I don’t know if I’ll make it this year, but you just never know.