Elders holding rally at Coqualeetza to save their group

The group was disbanded earlier this year in an emailed message from the Coqualeetza Cultural Education Centre (CCEC).

Members of the Coqualeetza Elders Group are staging a rally at the Coqualeetza grounds in Chilliwack tomorrow to protest the effort to dissolve the group.

The group was disbanded earlier this year in an emailed message from the Coqualeetza Cultural Education Centre (CCEC).

Although no rationale was given to explain the decision, the CCEC board stated it had to “review its mandate for program funding and service delivery.”

Elders were told they were forbidden to use the name “Coqualeetza,” and the group would no longer be affiliated with the centre’s programs, according to the letter dated Jan. 30.

“We sincerely desire reconciliation with the administration of Coqualeetza Cultural Education Centre,” said Virginia Joe, president of Coqualeetza Elders Group, in a press release.

They’ve tried various ways to negotiate out of the impasse they’ve reached.

But now they are asking to keep the name, as they’ve used it for 40 years, and they want to continue to meet weekly.

They’ve lost 120 elders in that time, who contributed to the cultural knowledge, language resources and cultural archives.

“We want to remain connected to the Centre and to maintain the legacy which our forerunners have entrusted to us.

“The hope is that we can work together with the BoD to realize a mutually satisfactory Plan of Action to achieve that end.”

The board has been silent on the matter to date, and did not return a Progress phone call.

“Communications have dwindled and the Elders, one of the most important natural resources we have, have felt under utilized and abandoned,” said Joe. “Please support Elders and acknowledge their importance by attending the rally.”

The rally is set for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10 at the Coqualeetza grounds.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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