Les Louis collaborated with Clint George to create the Pelmewash Parkway Indigenous sculptures in Lake Country. (Video still)

First Indigenous territory recognition made in Lake Country

Council makes historic move after Syilx artists create parkway sculptures

A celebration of Indigenous stories and territory has led to a historic move in Lake Country.

For the first time, an Indigenous territorial acknowledgement was made by council at it’s Jan. 19 meeting.

“Recognition and respect are essential elements to establishing healthy, reciprocal relationships,” the district said following the meeting.

The local politicians and staff also learned a bit more about some of the latest artwork to grace the Pelmewash Parkway.

Three significant Indigenous art sculptures were erected near the end of 2020 next to the former highway route along Wood Lake.

READ MORE: New Lake Country sculptures tell the stories of Syilx, Okanagan peoples

The Lake Country Public Art Advisory Commission worked with professional Indigenous Okanagan artists Clint George and Les Louis.

George, Syilx artist from the Penticton Indian Band, and Louis, Syilx artist from the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, combined their skills working in wood and metal to design and create the sculptures that share some of the traditional stories of the Okanagan people.

Like a 14-foot-tall feather, with a circle in the middle creating a perfect picture-taking opportunity.

“It also represents a statement that this land is our first nations people, which is our native people, Syilx people from the Okanagan territory,” George said. “We are here and we always will be here. Our stories stand tall, we stand strong, just as strong as that feather stands.”

There is also a pole with the four food chiefs, pointed in their compass directions, such as the salmon pointing west towards the oceans.

A canoe sculpture with story poles and storyboard depicts the land for its resources and activities.

“The images tell the story,” Louis said.

“This was a major gathering spot for the Okanagan nation members historically. Our ancestors are buried here up on the mountainsides of shale.”

While a formal in-person unveiling event for the Indigenous sculptures has not yet been organized due to the restrictions on gathering during the current pandemic, a video introduction to the sculptures is available online for community members and visitors to access at lakecountry.bc.ca/PublicArt.

The funding for this major public art project was provided by the Lake Country Public Art Advisory Commission and Lake Country ArtWalk.

READ MORE: Wind-damaged trees to come down in Lake Country park


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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Les Louis collaborated with Clint George to create the Pelmewash Parkway Indigenous sculptures in Lake Country. (Video still)

Les Louis collaborated with Clint George to create the Pelmewash Parkway Indigenous sculptures in Lake Country. (Video still)

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