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Cawston Community Hall gets colourful with Indigenous inclusive mural

Three local artists have been working on the mural over the last week
Three local Indigenous artists, from left to right Chila Louis, Shianna Allison and Sharifa Mardsen, are working on installing a diversity focused mural on the side of the Cawston Community Hall. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)

The Cawston Community Hall is a bit more colorful thanks to a minority-focused art project.

The Similkameen Kulture Kompass, which is set to rebrand over the next month, has been busy painting one of the walls of the Hall with a mural.

Project leader Tristan Boisvert (they/them) approached the Cawston Community Hall Society with the idea of how to use some of the funding that the Lower Similkameen Community Services Society’s group had received.

The Kompass received a grant from FortisBC through their Community Giving Award, a portion of which went towards the mural in Cawston. The Lower Similkameen Indian Band also contributed to the Cawston Hall mural.

“We want to create representational artwork of marginalized communities within our communities in the Upper and Lower Similkameen,” said Boisvert.

Building on their own ties with the local Indigenous community and the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, Boisvert sought out several Indigenous artists for the project.

Sharifa Marsden has been creating murals for years, and she was the first one that Boisvert reached out to run the mural, along with two other, female-identifying Indigenous artists; Chila Louis and Shianna Allison.

The mural on the Cawston Hall was Allison’s design, with a focus on approaching the 2SLGBTQIA+ community through an Indigenous lens.

“I chose women holding the world because they are very impactful and they’re our protectors and our life givers,” said Allison. “And I chose the [2SLGBTQIA+] flags to represent all the other planets in our solar system to show we’re all here together in harmony.”

The mural also faces the Cawston Primary School, where Boisvert and Allison went when as children, and where they hope it will make a positive impact.

“I think it’s an extremely progressive piece wherever you are, and to have it in front of a primary school where crucial education happens, it’s going to create conversation,” said Boisvert.

Work on the mural began the week of Aug. 15 and is expected to wrap up by the end of the month.

Once the Cawston Hall mural is complete, the Kompass will be working with a local Indigenous Elder and a Two-Spirit individual from the community to design a second mural that will be painted in Keremeos.

In addition to their murals and art, the Kompass is also using the funding from Fortis to go towards establishing a website that will build bridges between communities, promote the local artists, share history from local Elders of both Indigenous and Settler backgrounds and promote the artist trail through the valley.

READ MORE: Similkameen’s Kulture Kompass program gets $15k boost from Fortis

The Cawston Community Hall Society has plenty of space and is actively interested in finding other artists.

The submissions are asked to include the design and funding sources for the art. The society currently has a deadline for submissions of November 1, 2022.

The Cawston Community Hall Society can currently be reached by message through their Facebook page.

The Similkameen Kulture Kompass is also looking for other BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) artists in the Upper and Lower Similkameen area, and artists interested can email or call 250-502-8783.

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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