National Aboriginal Professional Artist Training Program student Cori Derrickson performs at the En’owkin Centre during year-end presentations last spring.

National Aboriginal Professional Artist Training Program student Cori Derrickson performs at the En’owkin Centre during year-end presentations last spring.

En’owkin celebrates local artists

National Aboriginal Professional Arts Training students showcased in two day event on Penticton Indian Reserve.

A two-day celebration and exhibition will highlight the strength and diversity of students training in a variety of disciplines of the arts at the En’owkin Centre.

This event showcases professional art in creative writing, storytelling, theatre performance, media arts as well as an exhibition of painting, sculpture, installation art and an introductory view of language learning achievement and course work in Okanagan Studies.

“We are highly regarded across Canada for the delivery and excellence of our program and the calibre of our teachers,” said Tracey Kim Bonneau, spokesperson for the En’owkin. “This is an entrepreneurial program. All of the artists that come through here will take their micro-businesses, continue improve their skills and market themselves in what they love most, the fine arts.”

An open house and meet and greet will occur on April 9 at 5 p.m. with the National Aboriginal Professional Arts Training Program, which is in its 10th year. The two-year program is funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage and serves to protect and preserve indigenous world-view and arts expressions in traditional heritage format utilizing interdisciplinary works with contemporary practice. Each year NAPAT takes between 12 to 15 students who submit portfolios of their work and letters of recommendation from their communities. Bonneau said one of the challenges faced is in literacy, so they opened the application process up to include oral presentations. While it is a training program, assistance is offered for students to obtain their Dogwood certificate.

“The dream of this program is we want to see our people working. We want to see our people in the local economy so they can sustain themselves. One of the highlight events we have is the Christmas craft fair because we have these students coming from Yellowknife or coming from Manitoba that literally move here for two years because they see the opportunities. The craft fair allows them to show off their work in a marketplace setting,” said Bonneau.

The training program is the only one of its kind in Canada because it is multi-disciplinary.

A highlight performance on April 9 will be Cree Opera, one of the unique expressions to be shared on opening night. On April 10, student readings, performances and an exhibition of works combined with participatory fun and entertainment to enable the general public a view of the importance of the concern with the loss and recovery of Aboriginal languages. The presentation will share in the fun and opportunity for interaction with the knowledge programs at En’owkin and their practical strategies for academic learning together with the revitalization of culture and language. Programs are designed to honour aboriginal traditional knowledge and practices and to recognize and accommodate their contemporary realities.

“The two days of events is open to the public and there is no admission. We want to provide a professional, relaxed setting so people feel really welcome to come into the space and enjoy the works of these professional artists,” said Bonneau.

Some of the success stories over the last decade that have come out of the NAPAT program include hip hop artist and inspirational speaker Kasp (Rob Sawan), Kym Gouchie and world champion hoop dancer Dallas Arcand.

En’owkin professional faculty will be sharing readings and performances during the noon hour lunch break. For more information, or to see the full schedule of events, visit