The Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its report mid December 2015. With my duties and involvement as Chair of the Sukwtemsqilxw West Kelowna Arts Council (http://www.swac-arts.com) I made it a personal goal to read the report and to record my responses.
It’s not an easy report to read.
The content is disturbing, but it is important to bear witness to those who have lived and died as a result of Canada’s First Nation policies. That is all I will say, except that those who participated in the Commission’s research and final report, you have great strength, humility and grace.
As of this writing, I am approaching the “Calls to Action” and am eagerly anticipating and already considering ways that my community can aid in the healing of the relationships between First Nation and non First Nation peoples.
The Arts Council has been busy. As Chair, I can truly say that our team is stupendous. What we have accomplished in the last eight months has been the result of the passion of our directors and the people on the westside and greater Okanagan. If you are interested in getting involved with this effective and active group, contact us at swacarts at gmail dot com.
We have done the Westside Culture Days that includes an Arts and Culture All Candidates Forum, which I am told is one of the first of its kind in the area. Seating is fairly limited so we have created an Eventbrite listing to ensure those who want to reserve a seat, can. This event is free, there is no cost to tickets.
The YLW Skyway/SWAC Okanagan Art initiative which is open to all artists in the YLW catchment area. This initiative will have original Okanagan artwork available for sale in the departure lounge after security. SWAC is acting as the known shipper and all artwork will be juried. All artists from Merritt to the Kootenays, from Revelstoke to Kamloops all the way down to Osoyoos are welcome to submit work for sale at the airport.
If you would like to keep up to date with the arts council activities, we send one email a month, maximum two for special occasions. You can unsubscribe at any time. Send a quick note to swacarts at gmail dot com, or join the arts council and you will be updated automatically. Our webpage is http://www.swac-arts.com
For the last four months since Westside Culture Days, this has been the focus of much of my time. I am proud to be part of an outstanding, motivated and active team who cares about our community and wants to make a positive impact here on the westside. I hope you join us and be part of this ground breaking organization that joins aboriginal and non aboriginal, business, artists and governments working together side by side. Come to our public launch, a luncheon during Heritage Week at the Cove Lakeside Resort, sponsored by the Greater Westside Board of Trade. More info follows below.
Suk’ʷtəmsqilxʷ (sook tem skayl hoo) West Kelowna Arts Council (SWAC) came into being after the inaugural Westside Culture Days 2014 weekend. In October 2014, after recognizing the enthusiasm of the attendees from both the businesses and the artists, a call went out to all Culture Days participants to see if forming an arts council on the west side of the bridge was relevant and timely. The response was highly favourable. This new arts council hopes to bring awareness to our diverse and rich cultural resources by working with interested and invested businesses.
The arts council connects two distinct governments through culture. The Okanagan word “Suk’ʷtəmsqilxʷ” means “half indigenous, half non-indigenous” and represents the connection between two worlds. Suk’ʷtəmsqilxʷ celebrates and demonstrates the council’s unique positioning. By utilizing a First Nation word in the name, the arts council recognizes West Kelowna is part of the traditional, unceded lands of the Syilx people.
The incorporation team solidified over the next two months. The inaugural board consists of westside businesses and artists: artist Julia Trops, WFN Heritage Officer Tracy Satin, artist Rebekah Wilkinson, business graduate Brenna Mackaay and business student Kimberleigh Trops, artist Matthew Brown, film maker Jason Woodford, Westbank Blenz owner Melissa Brown, artist Pat Raphael, artist Ralph Carlson, Dogwood Nursery representative Arlene Currie, and artist Pat Huber.
In December, the incorporation documents were filed with the BC Government and the public launch is scheduled for the Greater Westside Board of Trade’s luncheon on February 18 at the Cove during the Canada’s Heritage Week. During that luncheon, attendees will be treated to the first members of the arts council and learn how they can be part of the action. Tickets are $20 for this event and may be purchased from Karen Beaubier, 250.768.3378 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SWAC’s vision is one of cooperation, inclusion aimed at enriching our community by developing a vibrant cultural landscape. Our Constitution emphasizes the focus on community and partnership of artists, businesses and community members in events, cultural programs and education.
To date, many local artists and cultural creators have looked outside of our two westside communities to take advantage of needed cultural services such as exhibition and programming opportunities. This has created a void on the westside and the local population has no comprehensive identity or little cohesive structure for cultural activities. Our citizens have acknowledged this as a concern that needs to be addressed. By creating and fostering cultural activities, SWAC hopes to help to enrich the community and provide an avenue for cultural tourism.