NENAS CONNECT! happening after two-year “hiatus”

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The North East Native Advancing Society (NENAS) is hosting its CONNECT! event next month after a two-year “hiatus.”

“The forum is an amazing opportunity for local industries to get together with our First Nations communities and leaders from the First Nations communities also to get together with each other,” said Heather Kohler, communications and marketing manager with NENAS.

Kohler says the organization is excited to once again host the in-person event, which will be held on October 6th at the Pomeroy Hotel and Conference Centre in Fort St. John.

The event includes a First Nations Community & Industry Forum and Appreciation, Awards and Fundraising Dinner.

The First Nations Community & Industry Forum will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with tickets priced at $50 each.

The forum’s keynote speaker will be Haisla Nation Chief Crystal Smith.

“Every First Nation that we work with will have the opportunity to present something,” Kohler added.

She notes that participation is not required and says it is “a wonderful way to exchange knowledge.”

The Appreciation Awards and Fundraising Dinner will be from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets for the dinner are $125 each.

“We like to acknowledge all of our really strong community partners who do so much for our students and families,” Kohler said. “So we present awards to local businesses and individuals who have done a lot to acknowledge [local families].”

There will also be an Indigenous marketplace with vendors selling their handmade items.

“It’s just an opportunity for artisans to sell their wares. We don’t take any of their profits,” she said. “It’s just a good way for us to help expose them and their talent to everyone else.”

Don Burnstick, a Cree comedian from Alexander First Nation, will provide the evening’s entertainment.

“Don Burnstick is truly one of the funniest people I have ever seen,” Kohler said.

Leading up to the event, Kohler says the event team was overwhelmed by the generosity from sponsors.

“As soon as our amazing event coordinator, Stacy Freeman, got in touch with our previous donors who we hadn’t talked to for two years, everyone came back and even more generously than they have in the past,” she said.

“We couldn’t do this without our sponsors. It’s just amazing.”

All money raised from the event will go to the NENAS Sponsorship Program, which sponsors elders, youth, cultural, community, and urban community events.

“For elders, we do a provincial wellness retreat and cultural camps, and for youth, there are drummer clubs and sports clubs,” Kohler said.

Tickets and more information can be found on NENAS’ website.

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