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Thank you to Harry, Sachin, Steven, Joan, Jennifer, Larry and Patrick for an extremely enjoyable trip!  You guys are a privilege to spend time with!!!!

On Thursday, June 12th, an excited group of conference attendees assembled bright and early at the Treehouse and prepared for our big adventure over to the Inclusion BC Tides of Change conference in Nanaimo BC. The happy group consisted of Joan P, Jennifer G, Steven P, Sachin V, Harry S, Larry S and Patrick B. They were accompanied my members of our staff, Lise and Tanya.

We all piled into our van and headed to the Nanaimo ferry with time to spare for some photo ops before getting on the ferry. Larry looked for Mark W (SHS employee) on the ferry as Mark’s other job is working on BC Ferries, but had no luck in finding him.  While we were waiting for the ferry, we met some very friendly people and had some good laughs and conversations.  People were very inquisitive about where we were going and what we were doing, they had lots of questions and were an absolute pleasure to spend time with.

Once we got to Nanaimo and got settled into our hotel, we walked down to the Nanaimo Harbor and had a good look around at the beautiful scenery, walked along the sea wall and met more really nice people. The people we ran into all weekend were all so kind and friendly! While walking, Sachin bravely pet a big Old English Sheep puppy that strolled by.  He started spreading his wings with a little dog as we waited for the ferry, we were thrilled that he was so open to petting this big fluffy mop!

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At the harbor, Larry and Tanya scoped out the little harbor ferry that did a tour over to Newcastle Island and then managed to talk the whole group into taking the tour. One of the group members had a tough time when we got on the little boat and was a bit scared of it all but soon bravely overcame her fears and sailed on with the others. It was a great moment of overcoming fears!

On Newcastle Island there were mass photo ops with the fantastic scenery behind us and we took full advantage of it before the little ferry came back for us. On the way back, the ferry captain let anyone who wanted to get a picture taken of them driving the boat and tooting the horn. On the way back to the harbor, we were fortunate to catch site of a sea lion bobbing around in the water.

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After we’d had our fill of the harbor, we all headed to White Spot for dinner and had lots of laughs and joked around before trudging back to the hotel for the night.

The hotel had a breakfast buffet that we all took full advantage of for the next couple of mornings and they even had a waffle maker that everyone tried at least once while we were there. J

We’d like you to know about the funny bathroom flood in one of our rooms because of the silly shower curtain but we’ve decided not to tell anyone about it after all…..

The next day we all headed to the Conference Centre for the conference and were amazed at all the people there! Joan was delighted to see some old friends that she hadn’t seen in a long time and Larry (as usual) knew lots of people there.  It was a great conference and we met some really nice people during the day and sat in on a couple of interesting lectures. The first lecture was called The Love Bug and was all about exploring feelings and maintaining your own identity within relationships.

They had big posters on the wall that we could post pictures that reflected our feelings and everyone made some really great pictures to put up.

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The other lecture we hit was the one by Denise Bissonette and she told us all about looking beyond traditional concepts of job and career development and to craft livelihoods from what’s rooted in the individual genius of each person.  We all paid good attention here as she was a charismatic storyteller and was able to keep everyone’s undivided attention for the entire lecture.

During lunch (another tasty buffet), we sat in the lunch area and listened to a speaker who talked about lots of stuff and, among the speech, mentioned how great the Self Inclusion movement was. Jennifer was so excited when he mentioned Self Inclusion and cheered loudly!!

We were all lectured out by the time of our final lecture so we universally decided to go for ice-cream instead. We found a funky little ice-cream shop not too far away from the conference center and everyone chilled and had tasty ice-cream while we talked and laughed about our adventure so far and looked forward to the dinner and dance later on.

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Once back at the hotel and after a little rest, we all loaded into the van and headed back to the conference center for the big highlight of the trip – the Full Moon Dinner and Dance!  There was a buffet for dinner as well and a fellow was quietly going around and letting each table know which ones got to hit the buffet next. All of the other tables quietly snuck up to get their food – not Semi! We clapped and cheered loudly when it was our turn! And we had managed to jam 13 people at our table so it was quite a cheer indeed! Peter and Jan (Jan is a member of the Board at Semi) sat with us and so did Manjeet and her mom Baksho. It was a great dinner with lots of laughing, talking and getting to know the Board Members. Peter was kind enough to purchase wine for those who were interested.  Patrick kindly introduced Tanya to Tracey’s mom, Marie, who was also there with her husband along with Board Members Muhammad Afzal Malik, Teresita Aristizabal and Rich Gorman.  We are blessed to have such amazing people on our Board.

After dinner, Larry and Patrick both luckily won prizes – the table went wild with cheering! Once we had all oooo’d and aaaahhh’d over the prizes, the music started and the dancing began! Everyone danced the night away, especially Steven and Harry who danced to every song. Patrick, Sachin, Joan, Larry and Jennifer did their own fair share of dancing too. Joan even danced with a fellow in a cowboy hat and another in a funky wheelchair (Joan sure can boogie!) We stayed dancing and having a grand time till the lights came on and the music ended, it was a great party!

The next morning, we ate a good hearty breakfast at the hotel and then hit the road for home. Everyone had lots to share and was very happy with the whole trip. Harry had a good look for horses on the drive back to the ferry but we didn’t see any this time around until we reached the ferry parking lot.  He was pleased to see a horse trailer waiting for the ferry with a beautiful horse peeking out the front window.  On the ferry, Larry was successful in finding Mark and Mark took a very excited Larry up to the bridge for Larry to get a firsthand lesson in how the ship ran. A customer asked Larry if he was the captain as he was wearing a BC Ferry hat J Jennifer declared she was so happy to have done lots of walking at the hotel and on the ferry and Joan reminisced about the man in the cowboy hat.

The teamwork between everyone was fantastic and by the end of the trip, we were a finely oiled machine!

Can’t wait for next year!

By Tanya Gabriel, Semiahmoo House Society

Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community. 

The Semiahmoo Foundation, located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.

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