Community mourns Elder

Beloved Cowichan Elder, Philomena Alphonse (81) passed away today with family by her side.

  • Feb. 3, 2016 4:00 p.m.

Yuthithutse’  Philomena Alphonse

July 31, 1934 – February 1, 2016

Beloved Cowichan Elder, Philomena Alphonse (81) passed away today with family by her side.

Philomena lived in the Cowichan Tribes’ territory and was very involved with the Cowichan Tribes and Hul’qumi’num’ communities of the region. She served the Cowichan Tribes community as Chief for three terms (six years), Councillor for eight terms (16 years) and worked as the manager of the Education Department for over 10 years.

She was committed to community development and participated on the Quw’utsun Suyuw’entst Lelum Elder Advisory Committee, Cowichan Tribes Education Committee, Hul’qumi’num’ Treaty Group Elder Advisory Committee, Hul’qumi’num’ Health Hub Cultural Safety Committee, and the Cowichan Tribes Land Investigation Committee.

Philomena was a strong advocate for women and children, and for the revitalization of First Nations language, traditions, ceremonies and spirituality. She had a particular interest in cultural safety in health and was instrumental in the development of a cultural safety video that is used at the Cowichan District Hospital and throughout Vancouver Island.

Philomena was a matriarch of the Cowichan community and practiced the customs and traditions of her culture regularly.  She enjoyed playing la’hal (bone game) and was involved in Sacred Heart Catholic Women’s League at Saint Anne’s Church.

Philomena married Dennis Alphonse Sr. in 1952 and together they had eight children: Lucy Galloway (Dave) Dennis Alphonse Jr., Chris Alphonse, Paul Alphonse (Malinda), Francine Peter, John Alphonse, and many nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Philomena is pre-deceased by Dennis Alphonse Sr., Joseph Alphonse, and Caroline Mazie Alphonse.

Prayers will be held on Thursday, Feb. 4, at Si’em Lelum Gymnasium at 7 p.m.  A funeral service will be held on Friday, Feb. 5, at Si’em Lelum Gymnasium at             9:30 a.m, and burial will be at St Anne’s cemetery following the service.