A mini-powwow will be held at the Shatford Centre on June 21 to celebrate Aboriginal Day during an event hosted by the En’owkin Centre and the Okanagan School of the Arts. Photo courtesy of Stuart Bish

Aboriginal Day celebrated in the community

Two of the Okanagan’s prestigious art schools are partnering to celebrate indigenous culture

Two of the Okanagan’s prestigious art schools are partnering to celebrate indigenous culture for Aboriginal Day.

“We loved the idea of providing a setting where everyone can be together to celebrate indigenous culture,” said Jane Shaak, of the Okanagan School of the Arts who are working to put on a daylong celebration with the En’owkin Centre on June 21 at the Shatford Centre. “Because we are both art schools we have this great connection to keep creativity alive and strengthen and connect the indigenous and non-indegenous communities.”

Aboriginal Day will be celebrated at the Shatford Centre with a mini-powwow kicking off the event at 4 p.m. As well there will be entertainment from the Highwater Drum Group, portraits being taken by Joe Lebeau, craft vendors, children’s activities, a community feast of traditional foods at 6:30 p.m. and an exhibit called Resurgence will be on display. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Michelle Jack and Ann Doyon.

“There is quite a collection of diverse, dynamic pieces in the exhibit, as well an outstanding sculpture by artist Clint George will be on display,” said Shaak, of the Resurgence exhibit which will be on display until Sept. 10.

In the galleria are images of elders, youth, and historical events from the past featuring Okanagan Nation communities. Throughout the exhibition the language belonging to this region is used to recognize the traditional territory.

The Social Life of Water Exhibition will be on display as well. The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) brings the voices of syilx elders and Knowledge Keepers to this exhibition, offering an essential indigenous perspective that depicts the significance of water as it infiltrates every aspect of life. In addition to exploring the past and present, the exhibition will examine our relationship with water in the future, inviting participants to imagine how a responsible relationship with water might look. This project is a collaborative initiative between the Kelowna Museums Society, the Okanagan Nation Alliance, the University of British Columbia (Okanagan), the Sncewips Heritage Museum and the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

Shaak said the Aboriginal Day events is open to the public, donations are welcome, and those attending are asked to bring their lawnchairs for comfortable seating while enjoying the entertainment.

Aboriginal Day will also be celebrated at the Ooknakane Friendship Centre from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They invite the public to drop in throughout the day for smudge and prayer, teepee teachings, vendors and a traditional meal will be provided.

The Shatford Centre will continue hosting events throughout the summer including a talk on indigenous perspectives on Canada 150 by Dr. Greg Younging on June 27 at 7 p.m.

Younging is a member of Opsakwayak Cree Nation. He has a Masters of Arts Degree from The Institute of Canadian Studies at Carleton University, a Masters of Publishing Degree from the Canadian Centre for Studies in Writing and Publishing at Simon Fraser University, and has a Ph.D. from The Department of Educational Studies at University of British Columbia. He has worked for The Assembly Of First Nations, and The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. From 1990 to 2004 was the managing editor of Theytus Books. He is a former Member of the Canada Council Aboriginal Peoples Committee on the Arts (June 1997-June 2001) and the British Columbia Arts Council (July 1999-July 2001). He is the former Assistant Director of Research for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. He is currently on Faculty at the Indigenous Studies Program University of British Columbia Okanagan.