The Wellness Awards: Why Bother?

In this interview with Winds of Change Steering Committee Chair, Sheldon Tetreault, at Choose Pemberton, we find out why the Winds of Change, originally a Drug and Alcohol Task Force, has focussed on Wellness, and why we want you to nominate the inspiring people in your life who exemplify the Spirit of the Winds of Change.

(Nominations are due October 18!)

(For the full interview, visit Choose Pemberton, here.)

The Annual Wellness Gathering started in 2010, and is now celebrating its 4th iteration. Why focus on “wellness” rather than “addictions”?

Addictions has a more negative connotation and it’s likely a much narrower group of people that would be interested in learning specifically about addictions. Conversely, everyone has a stake in health and wellness. For this event we want to engage people in a fun, family orientated event. I also believe that part of the “solution” to addictions is to create an environment where healthy choices are easy to make. In fact, healthy choices should be unconscious choices (like buckling your seat belt is today versus 30 years ago). That starts with education about positive living choices that are easily available to us in our own communities. The Wellness Gathering is a tangible opportunity for people of all ages to engage in a fun, inspirational, and educational gathering.

And why focus on Wellness champions with the recognition awards? That’s a long way from creating a treatment centre etc…

Our core budget is $12,500 per year. We can’t build and operate an addictions treatment centre for that. We can’t run an outreach program to keep chronic alcoholics safer than they are drinking on our streets or in the bush. But we can offer our recognition and appreciation to those among us who are active in making healthy lifestyle choices, that are promoting fun ways to connect and live more active and engaged lives, and those people and organizations that dedicate their professional time and energy to building better communities. We think this is a valuable contribution to make and so that’s why we do it. P.S – If anyone wants to help us to build a treatment centre or run programs we are happy to have your help, your enthusiasm, and your connection to the funding to make it happen.

The Awards are to recognize three recipients who exemplify the spirit of the Winds of Change. Ultimately, what does that mean/entail?

The award is to recognize people or organizations who contribute to our communities in ways that promote healthy lifestyle options, model healthy, supportive relationships, or build bridges between our cultures and communities. It is not a technical criteria – it’s about heart, spirit, and initiative.

Do you have to be “clean” to win an award?

No of course not! That’s not the point. The award is not exclusively about sobriety or living a “clean” life. Addictive substances are legal and they play central roles in our society and our social relationships – think about coffee and alcohol! Our relationship to these substances is complex. What we want to do is reduce the harm or potential for harm by increasing awareness, increasing alternatives, and creating connections that strengthen our resilience. Anyone that contributes to these things is promoting the Winds of Change agenda and deserves to be recognized for their contributions.

Winds of Change Wellness Recognition Award

Do you think local champions for wellness get enough recognition for what they do?

I think there are a few recognition awards in our communities: the chamber awards, the citizen of the year, the Lil’wat employee awards. None of these specifically recognizes contributions to building healthier more resilient communities, so we think there is a niche for what we do with the Recognition Awards.

Where will the info be? When can people nominate?

The nomination forms are on the Wellness Almanac website. It is really easy to nominate someone. We want to highlight all of the people nominated this year – not just the people that are selected for an award.

What are the “awards”/trophies? 

The awards are a real local creation. Dave Steers has donated a beautiful photo from the Pemberton Valley each year. Allan Leblanc has sourced old local barn boards for the frame. Lois Joseph from the Lil’wat Cultural Centre has had a hand-made cedar strip or beaded feather made which sits inside the frame. They are a beautiful symbol of the collaboration of the Winds of Change as well as a celebration of place.

Anything else we should mention?

I challenge everyone reading this to take five minutes, go to the Wellness Almanac and nominate someone. Each of us knows at least one other person that enriches our community. Why not celebrate the richness of our communities by nominating them?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s