All Our Relations:
Portraits from the Elders' Gatherings
By Craig Richards
JANUARY 20 – MARCH 26, 2023
Every year, for the past 19 years, Indigenous Elders have gathered in the shadow of Sacred Buffalo Guardian Mountain near the Banks of the Bow River, in Banff National Park. The Elders come from First Nations on both sides of the Rocky Mountains, from seven major language groups. They come from communities and families with stories and memories shared through generations of exchanging traditional medicines, foods and sharing the Bow Valley, rivers, mountains, Buffalo, and Salmon.
The Elders meet to discuss a range of issues - from problems facing youth, the effects of residential schools, and how to bring back the Buffalo and Salmon to the ancestral mountains, prairies and rivers. The gatherings provide hope and direction for restoring culture, language, and community health for future generations.
Over the years youth have been invited to participate and have brought additional perspectives to the conversations. This has also been an opportunity for the Elders to pass on their knowledge. The Elders lead this annual three-day event, hosted by the Juniper Hotel in Banff, which is located on a historically significant site for First Nations peoples.
These Gatherings have become a spiritual experience that bonds participants and unifies their voice as brothers and sisters.
The Whyte Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the
Image: Craig Richards, Portrait of Elder Betty Letendre, Cree, 2020, Collection of Peter Poole