The first annual Wellbriety Celebration in Kamloops on May 13 to 15 aims to support people in their sobriety, according to organizer Dave Manuel of the Kamloops Indian Band.
“We wanted to recognize people who are in recovery; not just from alcohol and drugs, but from any addiction. It’s for anyone in the recovery process, whether they’re First Nations or not.”
The celebration incorporates medicine wheel teaching, where everyone is responsible in terms of wellbeing and sobriety. The event is for anyone aged 12 and up and is free of charge, and Manuel expects at least 200 people. “We’ve had interest from all over: Lillooet, Vernon, Williams Lake, Alert Bay.”
The Wellbriety movement started in the United States in 1982, and the Kamloops event is the first of its kind in B.C.
It opens at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 13, with an opening ceremony featuring hand-drumming, prayers, the lighting of a sacred fire, and a keynote speaker. On Saturday there will be a sunrise ceremony with men’s and women’s sweats, followed by breakfast. There will be Wellbriety circles for men, women, and youth, and speakers throughout the day discussing subjects such as the impact of the Residential schools, drug and alcohol counselling, and youth.
Dinner on Saturday night will be followed by an appearance by Oppie Oppenheim, the Cool Warrior. The evening will be rounded off with a family dance that will go until 11:00 p.m. At 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning there will be a river ceremony, which is a very sacred event for First Nations people, followed by breakfast, a Wellbriety meeting, and Elder storytelling.
Manuel encourages anyone interested in attending to register before May 10 by phoning (250) 828-9704, or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. “Anyone on the road to recovery is welcome. It’s all about healing.”