On Thurs. Feb. 22 Elders and youth came together for Wiser Together – Connecting Generations, created by the Student Council of Fort St. James Secondary School to bring youth and Elders together to bridge the gap between generations and experience cultural diversity.
About 55 people attended the luncheon at the Fort St. James Community Centre, enjoying a healthy lunch together while Nak’azdli and Yekooche First Nation shared traditional drumming, dancing and singing. Elder Terry Houghton also did some story telling and long time residents of Fort St. James learned new facts about the history of their community they never knew. After the meal, Erin Stagg Arts taught the paired up youth and Elders how to paint a beautiful mountain canvas using acrylic paints.
Elders and youth were connecting through prompted conversation starters and learning a little bit about one another without any pressure in a positive environment. The youth were taking the Elders plates and refilling their tea. They worked on their paintings side by side helping one another out with color mixing, learning from each other with plenty of relationship building taking place.
This was the first time this event has ever taken place in the community with funding from the First Nations Health Authority Winter Wellness grant. Feedback was very encouraging. There were several requests afterwards to bring it back again next year. Expressions like; “Wow that was amazing”, “Thank you for having me join this very special, unique event”, “ I wasn’t going to come, I am sure happy I did”, “I had no idea I could paint.”
The seniors have already invited the youth for lunch at the Senior Center.
Jhenipher Bridgeman, FSJSS worker, said that it was a much needed opportunity to gather, eat, share stories and teachable moments which will help the community heal, learn, and move forward together.