The jesters became our mascots in 1991 and have en-lightened my heart many times. They remind me to take myself lightly, never knowing if I am coming or going, to wear my heart on my sleeve and use the mirror of awareness to function in every moment of life as the light reflects back the love needed to have compassion for oneself and others who are on this journey called life.
Assume you are on this page of the website to know more about the Spring Festival of Awareness that was hosted for 40 years in the Okanagan/Kootenay regions of BC. It started in Castlegar, BC in 1978 by Harry Jukes and Sid Tayal who attended an event just south of the border organized by Sketter, a long time organic teacher and permaculturalist who organized quasi Rainbow Gathering in the days before internet.. where people actually met fact to face, gathered in circles and blessed the earth and others with their presence. Like minded people connecting to strengthen their knowingness that we are all one. Today there is no reason you can’t find your tribe as there are so many authors, visionairies and groups online that want you to join them in a variety of ways!
This page is Angele’s understanding of how it happened and if you wish to see who taught at these festivals click the blue letter to see the Spring Festival pdf’s.
In 1988 the Spring Festival of Awareness did not happen. I had attended it in 1986 and 1987 in Vernon because I was living in Summerland, 2 hours north. That fall Peter Morris was a speaker for the Metaphysical Society in Penticton and asked me to find out why the event did not happen, saying it was the the best event ever and he did not want it to die. Peter Morris and his guide Big Eagle led me down the path to discover indeed I was the purrrrfect person for hosting such an event. My life and the thousands of people would be different if I hadn’t said yes to that opportunity when it presented itself. Indeed I was able to growmyself in ways that are unimaginable, enlightening and transforming as I became a wise elder over the next thirty years. I also got to enjoy the energetic results of being of service to the divine plan. I tell others God must have laughed at my initial resistance as my plan to do the Festival once and get on with my life as I had planned.
I shall show a few images of those who made the choice to be involved and then tell my part of my tale as most of the details are in my book More Musing and written about many times in Issues Magazine for Empowerment.
This first photo shows Urmi Sheldon, Harry and Nora Jukes, Laurel Burnham, myself and David Cursons. It was taken at Naramata Centre during the first event, feeling triumphant that we had pulled it off, with over 200 people showing up, re-igniting the spirit of cooperation, love by sharing our passion. We had just finished planting a Tree for Peace behind McLaren Hall.
This second image was taken in my front room just before the second festival. Laurel was now in relationship with Daryl O’Neill and they were raising Galen, the kid at the top of the photo, then their is Dave Cursons, Carol from Caravan Books and beside her is Marion Walters, the registration lady. Below her is a lady with glasses and whom I have forgotten her name, then Judy Byers who stayed as crew for over ten years doing whatever was needed. Laurel is now without her permed hair, then another forgotten name but whom I remember the lady as she bought our house in Summerland so I could move to Penticton. Urmi is sitting in the chair and I am on the floor with Yalana and Yoland, Urmi’s twins. What good times those were as we figured out what to do next to improve the organization of the event.
Before I took over organizing the Festival it was held for six year at Selkirk college in Castlegar where Harry was a college professor. The Society for Self Awareness members held weekly meditations and decided to hold a Festival of Workshops on the Spring Equinox weekend. This marvelous Kootenay Event drew people from all over to join in a celebration of life, love, peace and awareness. The Spirit of the Festival was sensed by many people as an Angel or a Deva, who “overlighted” this wonderful event. The event was mainly organized by Nora, whom Harry had met a the first Festival as her Dad was an Astrology instructor, which Harry also studied. Many people happily volunteered their energy, workshop leaders graciously gave of their time and Selkirk College co-sponsored the event generously donating the use of their facilities.
In 1984 in this same spirit of cooperation, the healing group in Nelson sponsored the 7th festival at the former Notre Dame University site. Peter and Bonnie Williams, Phyllis Furumoto, Michael Hartley, and a host of many others, took up the challenge but in in the end it was not how they wanted to spend their time so they passed it along to Norbert Maertens and the Halos Society in 1985. The 8th festival was held in Vernon, BC in the Okanagan where it was coordinated for three years. The first two years it was held at a school and then politics became involved so it was moved to a Hotel. This group had disagreements so Harry and Nora decided the event should lay fallow for a year and see what happens.
At the time I was organizing the Penticton Metaphysical Society and hosted Peter Morris as an evening speaker. He had been an instructor at the 1987 event and wondered why he did not get an invite to teach this year and asked me to find out why. When I phoned the Vernon contact number I was told they were looking for a new group to carry the energy of the Festival forward. Peter and Angele drove to Vernon to see what as involved. Peter convinced Angele that they could do it so at each metaphysical meeting she asked people if they wanted to help organize a Spring Festival of Awareness to be held at Naramata Center in May. Urmi Sheldon was the first to volunteer as she and Angele had created the TV show the Holistic Networker and were creating hour long episodes to promote organic gardening, yoga and tai chi as well as interviewing weird and wonderful folks about their holistic approach to health. Laurel Burnham was next to volunteer for she had attended a Festival in Nelson and was very excited, adding she had lots of contacts and could proof read. Then Dave Cursons and Judy Byers said they could help. Eventually Marion Walters managed to get through on Angele’s very busy phone line to say she had experience looking after a trailer court, maybe she could help with Registration. The Spirit of the Festival of Awareness found its home at Naramata Centre, the perfect venue for the next 25 years. 1989 to 2014. Over all it flourished for 40 years 1978 to 2018.
The second year the festival was held at Naramata it was on the April 1st weekend. The Jester appeared and the rainbow banners were unfurled as the clocks moved forward one hour which confused a few of the instructors. Elaine Fornier joined as store manager and we had fancy team shirts screened with a rainbow image of the Festival Deva on shopping bags and shirts .
Mike Kruger became Jans’ partner and helped Daryl 0″Neill get the site ready. Mike did Reiki in the Healing Oasis and Daryl helped with the Children’s Festival. Eventually Joyce Egolf, lady behind Laurel and Gerry Parent, beside her, joined our crew. Samarpan, Marcel Campbell and Nywyn joined once they started to worked for either the Holistic Health Center or Issues Magazine. We were also joined by a few others whom I have forgotten their names. As you can see Susan Lopecticki dyed rainbow colored shirts and sweat shirts that became our uniform. Now it was easy to know who to ask a questions if you were attending an event .
My story has been written about more than once in Issues Magazine and in my latest book More Musing which chronicles my magical life that allowed the flow of energy to happen effortlessly. What an amazing adventure I had!
One of the many stories I have shared is learning about New Agers. Like when Nora and Harry showed up at my house in Penticton to see whether or not they would approve of me taking over the Festival. They had started the event and if they liked me I would get $2000 to help with advertising and a deposit for Naramata Centre to hold the site for the May date. We chatted for 15 minutes and then Harry said the best way to know is to meditate! We held hands around my kitchen for 6-8 minutes, then Harry breaks the silence by saying “She has my vote” Nora takes a deep breath and purrs ” She has my vote too… the spiral of energy went all the way to the heavens.” They gave me a cheque and hurried off in their golden coloured station wagon. I shook my head in amazement at how these New Age made decisions. Earlier that year when Urmi and I interviewed Catherine McDougall, mother of the organic farming movement in the Okanagan I had a similar experience so I was getting used to it. We had shot footage of several organic farms and I wanted to ask her questions. We knocked on her door and said she doesn’t usually allow interviews but would make an exception. After twenty minutes of chatting we had a wrap and I said to her, “That wasn’t too bad and she replied “My cat sat under your chair the whole time, I knew my words would be safe with you.”
In 1996 the attendance to the Spring Festival increased past the limits of what Naramata could host, so we decided to host a Fall Festival of Awareness so more people could check out the wonderment of being in the presence of so many like-minded people. The only date available was Nov 15-17, 1996 and it snowed…but those attending had a great time and I had an energy rush from Quan Yin that brought me to my knees. Laurel Burnham had been talking to Betty Nickerson of the Amazing Greys seminars on the coast and wanted a ‘women only’ weekends as they were were popular on the coast. We called it the Wise Woman Weekend and on Sept 5-7, 1997 with 75 women attending. We tried the Fall Festival again Oct 17-19, 1997 as we had prebooked the Center. At our wrap up meeting we decided two events a year were plenty to keep everyone happy, except the few men who complained they could not attend the Womens only event.
In 1998 we permanently book the entire site of Naramata Centre, the second weekend in September and the last weekend in April.
In 2003 I decided to move to the Kootenays that fall and live with Richard Ortega who owns the Johnsons Landing Retreat Center. Laurel Burnham, Samarpan Fassi and Urmi Sheldon were excited to take over the Wise Woman event in 2004 and do it their way. In 2007 only half the site was booked and Christina Ince heard it would not happen in 2008 and encouraged Angéle to take it back. Christina’s best friend, was Marion Desborough and she was willing to look after registrations. Christina would look after the healers for both events till the summer of 2009 when she moved to the coast. Sunnaira then took over looking after the Healers once the event started. Marion eventually took over registration for ‘everyone’ for both festivals thus the festivals endured for as long as they did. Starting in 2004 I had to travel 6 hours eastward, another day to shop for flowers and food, equipment and a day to set up and 3 days of workshops, another day to put away decorations then a rest, wrap up meeting and drive back home the following day.
In 2014 when Naramata Centre closed I knew it was the beginning of the end. I had started Issues Magazine for Empowerment to promote the Festivals and now I was ready to let them both go. Richard, my husband and Lady Marion who did registrations did not want me to stop so I did my best to please them both. We secured the Shatford Center in Penticton and added more events to the Johnson’s Landing Retreat Center calendar. People did not like driving to a motel in Penticton and the venue was smaller, no longer allowing 300 plus people to attend. The Retreat Center had about 25 people register the first year which halved the second year.
Below is the last picture of my original crew before I left for the Okanagan. Samarpan was keeping track of registrations and working part time for Issues and the book/gift store. On the other side of me is Marcel who looked after the healers, advertising and being around for most events. Sitting in green is Laurel Burnham who was busy with her own projects. Nywyn continued to look after the Festival Store, painted the 4 angels for the Great Hall and worked as a Holistic health practitioner as did Urmi.
This was one of the onsite crews that decorated, cooked food for volunteers, and sat in chairs answering questions and registering people along with the 4 of us. Below is my final crew 2009 to 2016. Sunnaira is in pink and she looked after the healers and meals once the festival started. Karen decorated the Great Hall and looked over the site to make sure the flowers, statues and crystals were in place. Marion is on the far end and did the registrations for everyone; healers, participants and volunteers. She started two months before the event and kept impeccable records. I found the instructors via my many advertisers and trade shows I attended. Marion and Sunnaira decided to add an extra day of sessions since the Oasis was so popular. In 2017 I was feeling complete and needed some rest.
The photo above was taken just as we restarted the Women Festival. Naomi ForRest and I have matching pants. What amazing women that helped to cocreate this amazing events and if you want help creating one in your town I will be happy to tell you what I know. This last picture is of Harry and Nora at Naramata Center, just finishing lunch. Nora looks like she is figuring out what to attend next by rereading her program, the back half of Issues Magazine available at metaphysical shops around BC and AB!
Zachary Williams - 02/05/2023
Congratulations on completing your book.
Richard - 02/05/2023
Great to see your book is complete