iN VIDEO: Indigenous artists on the cultural importance of Pelmewash Parkway installations in Lake Country | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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iN VIDEO: Indigenous artists on the cultural importance of Pelmewash Parkway installations in Lake Country

Artists Clint George, Les Louis and assistant Rick complete the installation of the Canoe sculpture on Pelmewash Parkway.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/District of Lake Country

With the recent installation of Indigenous art along Pelmewash Parkway, the District of Lake Country is featuring the creators of the pieces online since gatherings are currently not allowed to take place.

The Lake Country Public Art Advisory Commission worked with two professional Indigenous Okanagan artists who created the new sculptures which were unveiled in December.

Clint George, Syilx artist from the Penticton Indian Band, and Les Louis, Syilx artist from the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, combined their skills working in wood and metal to design and create three major sculptures that tell the traditional stories of the Okanagan people, according to a district news release.

The Four Food Chiefs sculpture can be found at the south end of Pelmewash Parkway, the Canoe sculpture is located at the mid-point of the road and the Feather sculpture can be found at the north end.

George and Louis explained the significance of these sculptures.

The Syilx people have Four Food Chiefs that have been long been a part of Syilx heritage and storytelling.

At the bottom of the Four Food Chiefs installation, there are lines representing the earth, followed by a pictograph of the bitterroot, the Saskatoon berry, the king salmon and the bear, Louis said in a video posted to the district’s YouTube page.

This sculpture is laid out in a way that the pictographs actually align with a compass direction, the bear is in north, the Saskatoon berries are east, the roots are to the south and the salmon are to the west, where the ocean lies, George said in the district’s video.

“The Feather sculpture with the medicine wheel, sun/star blanket, and depictions of Okanagan pictographs integrates the importance of working in harmony with the settlers of our land. The Canoe sculpture reminds us of the importance of transportation, working together, and the story of traditional transportation networks of the Syilx people,” they said in the press release.

The wood poles carrying the Canoe are carved with the art of the pictographs from the Okanagan territory. The burnished metal of the Four Food Chiefs reflects the changing light of the sun. The central open form of the Feather sculpture provides a visual portal through which the background vistas are seen.

The name for Pelmewash Parkway was chosen in recognition of the Sylix people that have inhabited the area for thousands of years, said Matt Vader, manager of communications and governmental affairs, during a district council meeting last night, Jan. 19.

“We are grateful to the artists who created these sculptures as reminders about how this area along Wood Lake was regularly used for many years by the Syilx people,” said Sharon McCoubrey, chairperson of the Public Art Advisory Commission, in a district press release. “We hope everyone will enjoy the beauty of these sculptures and will think of their meaning and significance.”

“As the Okanagan Valley becomes more diverse and populated, it is important to remember the Syilx people, the original inhabitants of our land.We are leaving artifacts for our future generations to be proud of and appreciate the fact we as Syilx people are being recognized in our traditional territory and are able to leave a footprint for all to see," McCoubrey said.

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

All the videos with the artists can be watched on the district's YouTube channel here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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