It was a full house on Sunday morning at Peachland’s 50+ Activity Centre, as men and women gathered for the first annual Okanagan Ladies’ Tea and Bannock Celebration for International Women’s Day.
The Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance and the Westbank First Nation co-hosted the event.
There were various performances, which all honoured women and the leadership role they take in protecting the region’s water. Traditional Western and Indigenous food and drink were also served.
Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau was in attendance. She said events like these are important as it highlights the people who continually work to ensure future generations have access to clean drinking water.
“I think we really need to recognize (those who fight for clean water), especially now in a time of climate change, this has to be an important priority for the whole province,” she said.
“Watersheds and watershed protection are really important to me… and I really want to recognize the efforts of women and communities all over the province who are leaning into this very important work of protecting watersheds.”
Vancouver singer Heather Pawsey, along with Westbank First Nation’s Delphine Derickson, performed excerpts of the opera The Lake, a work based on Susan Allison’s experience in the 1870s as she and her husband settled in a West Kelowna property, which is now known as the Quails’ Gate Estate Winery.
Pawsey said women and water have a special connection.
“(Women) understand water, we give birth, we have children in water in our bodies… and women are coming together at all levels to ensure this resource is protected,” she said.
“Water and air are the two things that every single human being on the planet needs to survive. We need to start taking care of it now. And events like this, where we not only have women coming together but we have cultures coming together… really, we need to learn from each other and I find things like this so empowering and hopeful.”
The day ended with a Syilx water ceremony.