Two glass etchings that will help reduce barriers and create spaces that ensure Aboriginal people feel safe and acknowledged when accessing Interior Health’s services were unveiled Thursday in Williams Lake.
Taking part in a ceremony leading up to the unveiling of the artwork by Secwepemc artist Tony Antoine were members of the Williams Lake Indian Band including Chief Ann Louie and outgoing CEO of Interior Health Chris Mazurkewich.
“It’s an exciting day for Secwepemc to have this work honored here and for Cariboo Memorial Hospital to enhance the work that’s been built by Chris over the years with the First Nations,’ said Louie.
“It’s so exciting because it’s something we need to do to come together to build proper health services.”
Six glass etchings also by Antoine were unveiled earlier this week at the Kamloops Royal Inland Hospital and will be installed at RIH, Barriere Health Centre, Chase Health Centre, Shuswap Lake General Hospital, and Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in Clearwater.
“It’s been a privilege and honor to be picked for this,” says Antoine noting that each piece is different and took between 6-8 hours to complete.
In 2015, IH Aboriginal Health provided funding to each of the seven First Nations within Interior Health for the creation of artwork that would be displayed in hospitals and health centres located in each of the Nations’ traditional territories.
Some art pieces have been completed and installed: in Kelowna, Okanagan Nation Alliance paintings have been hung in Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton hospitals; in Williams Lake, a carved wooden bench from the Tsilhqot’in First Nation is located at Deni House residential care; and in Kamloops, a glass etching is hung at the Home Health community clinic. The latter was also created by Antoine.
“It’s important to provide a healthcare environment that is culturally safe, and above all welcoming, to all Interior Health residents, especially our Aboriginal communities on whose traditional territories our facilities stand,” said Doug Cochrane, Interior Health Board Chair.
“This is a special day for us and, on behalf of Interior Health, I want to thank Secwepemc artist Tony Antoine for these works of art, which will serve as a reminder to IH of our commitment to cultural safety and our recognition of traditional territories.”
The artwork will hang near the entrances of Cariboo Memorial Hospital and 100 Mile District General Hospital. They are marked with the message TsuMinte re Secwepemcul’ecw–’You are on the traditional territory of the Secwepemc Nation, and you are welcome here.’