Cultural Teachings

On March 9, 2011, we were honored to have Gerald Oleman speak to our young parents at the Ki-low-Na Friendship Society. Gerry is a traditional knowledge teacher from the Seton Lake First Nation. He is a wonderful storyteller and has a way of communicating positive messages to our parents on traditional ways of child-rearing. He spoke of the way Aboriginal people raised their children before colonization and helped them think of ways that some of that can be recovered.

A couple of years ago, community members identified priorities to guide Aboriginal CATCH in t

heir work. One of the priorities was to have more Elders involved, to play a bi

g part in helping young families raise their children. Some feedback from Elders was that they know that young Aboriginal parents have lost a lot of their culture. They would like to see opportunities for families to learn.

Having special events like the one with Gerald Oleman is one example of how we are doing this.


Ginny Dumaine, Infant Development Coordinator, Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society and Aboriginal CATCH member

 Gerald Oleman drumming for the participants

Sculpture Shares a Story of Central Okanagan Aboriginal Community

Artists these days often look for ways to relate their creativity to important community ideas and activities. Similarly, members of Aboriginal CATCH (Community Action Toward Children’s Health) saw the potential of linking art to Aboriginal Early Childhood Development. They asked a young Métis artist and UBC Okanagan student; Chad Pratch to create a work of art to honour people who took part in a dialogue aimed at finding out what will make our community a healthier place to raise Aboriginal children from conception to age six.

After watching and listening to the stories, thoughts, and feelings of the dialogue participants, Chad became imbued with their belief that children’s lives will improve if we move forward from issues of the past while preserving and teaching children the strengths of traditional culture and language. His relief sculpture portrays polished steel figures of children travelling in an Okanagan-designed wooden canoe toward a healthier future. Under the canoe lies a pile of broken bricks symbolizing former residential schools. Feathers that represent gifts of perseverance, hope, and survival from the ancestors to the children rise from the bricks.

The sculpture is dedicated to the artist’s great-grandmother who endured deep suffering as a child in a residential school.

Aboriginal CATCH sought to locate a permanent place to display the sculpture. Derived from such a unique partnership between an artist and a dedicated group of Aboriginal ECD professionals, it became a key goal to share among the entire community an image of Aboriginal strength in early childhood development.

The Kelowna General Hospital agreed to host the work at its new building complex, opening in stages over the next several years. Chad Pratch is adapting the sculpture to be viewed three dimensionally and raised to eye-level on a base. A plaque will describe the story of how the sculpture came to be. Aboriginal CATCH plans a celebration when the sculpture is installed.

 Aboriginal CATCH Sculpture


Artist, Chad Pratch and Carol Lust, Métis Community Services Society of BC and Aboriginal CATCH member

Father Becoming a Leader at Cultural Gatherings

Jay Charleyboy is a single father who is raising his three daughters. His youngest is now in Kindergarten. The girls previously attended the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society’s Skemxist Preschool, whose Dream Catcher Library is supported by United Way Success By 6. Jay and his daughters have taken part in many of the family events and programs of the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society.

Originally from northern BC, Jay’s family is part of the urban First Nations population that seeks a cultural connection in the Central Okanagan community. To Jay, it is very important that his daughters spend time with other Aboriginal people and experience Aboriginal culture.

When Aboriginal CATCH followed up its 2nd Annual Aboriginal Community ECD Gathering by asking some participants for their feedback, they got some great ideas and thoughtful comments from Jay. So when it came time to plan the 3rd Annual Community ECD Gathering, it seemed natural to invite Jay to take part.

Jay was very pleased to take on the role of Emcee for the evening. His sense of humour helped keep the attention of participants and he made sure that the evening progressed on schedule. It was a very full evening with a family supper followed by Kathi Camilleri’s workshop ‘Paddling Together’.

Jay did a great job and Aboriginal CATCH will encourage his continued involvement in planning its 4th Annual Aboriginal Community ECD Gathering in 2011.

 Jay Charleyboy, Emcee, 3rd Annual Aboriginal Community ECD Gathering held at Westbank First Nation, Westbank, BC

 Jay Charleyboy and His Daughters

Grandpa Helps Tell Stories of Grandma’s Childhood in Therapy

The Granny and Grandpa workshop was held at Métis Community Services with a representation of community members, friends and extended family. The actual teaching time was demonstrated by one of the Elders, who encouraged involvement through the use of Métis and Aboriginal artefacts which then became a reference point for a story. Experiences of canoeing, observing animal life and family celebrations were generational themes brought out be the puppets, Granny and Grandpa.

The following day, in my therapeutic practice, a very special Grandma came to spend time with her Grandson. We were able to use Grandpa to tell stories of what it was like for Grandma when she was a little girl. She shared that her Grandpa was very special to her. Grandpa was then a Great-Grandpa to the young boy. He had not heard these stories and was fascinated by the connections made from the past to present. Grandma sings to her Grandson a special song she loves about the “Land of the Silver Birch”. Now, she sings to him every time we meet.

Sandra Martinson, Thera-play Therapist, Métis Community Services Society of BC, Kelowna


Granny and Grandpa opening doors to conversations in therapy

Central Okanagan Elders Meet Granny and Grampa

Aboriginal community members told Aboriginal CATCH that the involvement of Elders is essential to the healthy development of children, so Aboriginal CATCH encouraged participation by two Westbank First Nation Elders in United Way’s Success By 6 ‘Granny and Grampa Connections Box’ train-the-trainer workshop held in Central Okanagan last January.

Delphine Derickson is an honoured teacher of the Syilx language and cultural knowledge. Her work with young children at Westbank First Nation’s Sensisyusten House of Learning has increased the number of Okanagan people who can understand and speak their traditional language.

Lenora Holding is an active volunteer with Westbank First Nation’s Community Services Early Years Family Programs. Her energy, charm, and dedication are invaluable to Elders, family programs, and many community events.

Both women are excited about the new Granny and Grandpa Connections Box and recently participated in a parenting workshop sponsored by Aboriginal CATCH at Westbank First Nation using this resource to encourage parents to talk with their children about culture. As they passed around animal figures from the box, a conversation about clans took place among the group. Delphine told them that knowledge of clans among the Syilx people has largely disappeared, which led to agreement among the parents that it is very important for them to pass on whatever knowledge they have. Parents also spoke about the value of learning from other community members, like Delphine and Lenora, who share their wisdom and knowledge.

At another Aboriginal CATCH parenting workshop at Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, Elder Arnold August used both Granny and Grampa to portray several adults who were important to him as a child. Arnold’s playfulness and honesty about his childhood, which was not stable nor a very happy time in his life, was a wonderful example of role modeling and leadership. Arnold is another dedicated and active volunteer among the urban First Nations families who are connected with the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society.

A third workshop for parents and caregivers featuring ‘Granny and Grampa’ was held at Métis Community Services Society of BC. Elder Jean Neufeld is a cheerful, hard-working Métis Grandmother who also volunteers many hours for her people and her culture. Jean said that the circular blanket reminded her of the kitchen table and the tradition of Métis families meeting around the table. This image was inspiring to many in the group, who want to keep this tradition going with their children.

The Granny and Grampa Connections Box is proving to be a great inspiration to the many Elders, parents, and caregivers who have used it so far in Central Okanagan. It is amazing to see how this resource comes alive through stories and adapts to all of the Aboriginal cultures!



Elder Arnold August portrays adults important to him as a child to the group at the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society Granny and Grandpa Workshop




Delphine Derickson, honoured teacher of the Syilx language and cultural knowledge, at Westbank First Nation shares her knowledge of clans with the training participants




Elder Jean Neufeld talking about the circular blanket bringing back fond memories of sitting around the kitchen table with family




Elder Lenora Holding tells how important her role is to share wisdom and knowledge at Westbank First Nation’s Early Years Family Programs


CATCH - copyright 2012 - All rights reserved
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software