“Lifeline - Sqilxw Resilience” was raised at Highway 3 and Cawston Avenue on July 1, 2019. (submitted)

Indigenous mural raised on in the Okanagan on Canada Day: “We’re Still Here!”

It’s to remind Canadians of the impact colonialism has had on its Indigenous people, said artist

“Canada Day is not a celebration for everyone,” said one Okanagan artist after an Indigenous mural was raised on a busy road in the Okanagan.

The University of British Columbia Okanagan in partnership with the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society and the Kelowna Senior Secondary (KSS) raised a billboard on Highway 3, Indian Reserve #2, near the town of Cawston, on July 1 as a reminder that confederation and colonialism has had a negative effect on Indigenous communities in Canada.

“There are different perspectives on this land,” said Crystal Pryzbille, fine arts master student at UBCO and facilitator of the project.

READ MORE: B.C. auditor says Indigenous grad rate highest ever but education gaps exist

Sylix artist Sheldon Louis along with grade 12 students in the Honors 12 art class painted “Lifeline – Sqilxw Resilience” last year with help of a $1,500 UBC Partnership Recognition Fund and waited until July 1 to raise it.

It features a prismatic collection of Indigenous symbols and settings such as people, lakes, mountains and animals.

It was created through a series of discussions led by Louis and Syilx activist Dixon Terbasket, who discussed with the students the impact of colonialism on their people and culture

“There was lots of honking on the highway as people drove by,” said Pryzbille.

READ MORE: Indigenous festival co-creator looking to build traditional Okanagan event

The painting is in line with an on-going mission that Pryzbille describes as an artful reminder of Indigenous resillience from over a century of adversity and the broader histories of Canada.

David Venn
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at david.venn@kelownacapnews.com
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