On January 9, 2017 the Social Planning Council of the North Okanagan, The Downtown Vernon Association and the Allan Brooks Nature Centre announced in Vernon City Council Chambers that funding had been received by the Government of Canada for a community-wide event to be called RespectFEST 2017 to recognize the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation.

In a news release, the Honourable Minister Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage said:  “The North Okanagan RespectFEST will be a wonderful chance for Canadians to increase their environmental conscience and celebrate cultural diversity.  It will also be an opportunity to highlight the important contribution of Indigenous people of the North Okanagan region. For the 150th anniversary of Confederation, I invite all Canadians to celebrate in their communities and strengthen the bonds that unite us!”

Please read the full media release here:  Canada 150 Activities Announced for Vernon

On January 25, 2017 more than 35 people representing 22 local community agencies and partner organizations gathered together with a collective focus to energize the beginning phases of planning for RespectFest 2017.   To read more and see photos of the day, please click here:  Respect in Action  

On February 21, 2017 18 members of the community met to discuss RespectFest Art and History Walks to take place between September 18 – 23, 2017. Representatives from Caetani Cultural Centre, Vernon Public Art Gallery, Arts Council of the North Okanagan, Greater Vernon Museum and Archives, Mackie House, Centre Cultural Francophone de l’okanagan, City of Vernon – Vernon Councillor, Social Planning Council North Okanagan, Allen Brooks Nature Centre, and the Downtown Vernon Association.   Read more about the  Art & History Walks  

On March 28, 2017 the Downtown Vernon Association issued a call for artists to create a Participatory Public Art Piece as part of RespectFest 2017, funded in part by the Government of Canada, the DVA and the City of Vernon.  Read more about it here:  Participatory Public Art Piece

By May 8, 2017 dozens of community groups had already started planning events as part of a RespectFEST 2017.  Walks and other activities that revolve around the concept of respect for nature, art, history, culture and education are being developed for the week-long festival September 18-24, 2017 marking Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation.  To learn more, read: Groups Invited to Join in RespectFEST 2017
On May 18, 2017, local ceramic artist, Gabrielle Strong, a Métis woman and graduate of Emily Carr University of Art + Design was awarded a contract by the Downtown Vernon Association (DVA) and the City of Vernon to create the new Participatory Public Art Piece that will be revealed during RespectFEST 2017.
Ms. Strong will be facilitating the creation of the art work with a series of  workshops which are free and open to the public.  To register for your opportunity to participate in the creation of the river mosaic art project, please visit the Workshop Registration webpages.   To learn more about the project, please read the news release here.
Artist Gabrielle Strong (right) is joined by elected officials and representatives from the City of Vernon, The Government of Canada, the Social Planning Council, and the Downtown Vernon Association as they mark the spot where the public art will be installed later this year.
RespectFest 2017 will take place in Vernon and surrounding areas September 18th – 24th.