I love the way Director Mike Retasket participates in various TIABC meetings. With a big smile on his face, he imparts encouraging words of wisdom in a gentle, yet profound manner that captivates everyone.
I recall a meeting on International Women’s Day when Mike spoke so eloquently about how we need to honour our mothers for the guidance and nurturing they provide to their children. This from a man who at age five sadly lost his mom, leaving he and his 10 siblings without the anchor of their large family.
As we celebrate National Indigenous History Month (NIHM), allow me to tell you a bit more about Mike, who fittingly this week was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV).
Mike works in the historic town of Barkerville where he educates visitors about the region’s rich Indigenous history. On TIABC’s board, he represents the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association and chairs our Membership and Communications Committee.
He’s renowned as a drummer, dancer, cultural interpreter, political leader, negotiator and traditional Secwepemc knowledge keeper. You may have witnessed some of his talents at this year’s BC Tourism & Hospitality Conference in Prince George where Mike, along with his wife Cheryl, joined keynote speaker Frank Antoine on stage and captivated the audience with his beautiful singing and drumming.
Mike is the former Chief of the Bonaparte Indian Band and also served on the boards of the First Nations Leadership Council, Fraser Basin Council, First Nations Forestry Council, and Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
Aside from his various professional endeavours, Mike is committed to teaching the language, songs, ceremonies, traditions, and knowledge of the lands, waters and medicines of his culture to future generations. He subscribes to the values of leaving the land better than how you found it, remembering who you are, where you came from and the ancestors who came before you.
National Indigenous History Month in Canada represents an opportunity for all of us to learn about the unique cultures, traditions and experiences of First Nations, Inuit and Metis, and to honour the stories, achievements and resilience of Indigenous Peoples.
As part of NIHM and in advance of National Indigenous Peoples Day (NIPD), TIABC wishes to recognize Mike for his tremendous contribution to our sector and province, as well as for the Honorary Degree he received from UFV this week. We also want to honour and acknowledge TIABC Director Brenda Baptiste of the Osoyoos Indian Band who last year was awarded the Order of BC for her outstanding service and contribution to our province.
We are so fortunate to have both Brenda and Dr. Mike on our board. I eagerly await their encouraging words of wisdom and advice the next time we meet and look forward to celebrating NIPD with them and all Canadians on June 21st.