The National Gathering of Elders provides non-natives and corporations a wonderful opportunity to get to know, understand and learn to respect the traditions, cultures, complexity, protocol and diversity of First Nations. The single most important key in businesses and governments developing opportunities with First Nations is through building relationship. It is vital that business people come to learn who they are dealing with and the context of how to move forward. To do this a positive relationship needs to be developed and grown. Often, this means spending time to create a comfort zone so that opportunities can be identified and nurtured. For a meaningful relationship to be established, these opportunities cannot proceed more quickly than First Nations feel acceptable. Building such a relationship with businesses will help to enlighten corporations of the complexities of First Nation politics, leadership, communications, sustainability & environmental responsibilities, protocols and capacity. Respect and patience from business will lead to deep lasting partnerships and will work to bring certainty to future projects that will be of benefit for all the people of our province. Corporate Partners need to understand that project success criteria to the Elders is based on the Triple Bottom Line measurable that includes direct economic benefit through bottom line economics; Social benefit and stewardship of the land through sustainable employment, training, education and respect for mother earth; and that a Legacy is left bringing increased capacity; cultural, recreational, health, educational facilities and infrastructure to each community after projects come to fruition
Cultural activities witnessed at past Gatherings have included name giving ceremonies, totem pole raising ceremony, revival of the Bumble Bee dance (not publicly demonstrated for over one hundred years), traditional weddings, a give-away of a hereditary chief’s belongings and name/title and role handed down, Pow Wow’s and many singing and dance groups. During the 35th Annual BC Elders Gathering in British Columbia at the Traditional Feast and Sponsor Partner Appreciation Ceremony, every sponsor representative had tears running down their faces as they stood on cedar bows in the centre of the long house as the youth dance groups and drummers circled all around them. This emotional bond witnessed during the Traditional Ceremony in the Sumas Long House was the beginning of attracting sustaining Sponsor Partners to Elders Gatherings.
Experience from the organizing team, plays a key role in our quests to ever improve the gathering by achieving the wishes of the elders in the most enjoyable and respectful manner possible. Only through the combined capabilities and capacity of the host and co-host Band Councils, Elders and with the support of others including the support from our sustaining Sponsor Partners will the elders gathering be as successful as it should be.