Interior Health unveils new Secwepemc artwork

By Adam Donnelly
June 11, 2018 - 5:18pm

KAMLOOPS — Monday at Royal Inland Hospital, representatives from Interior Health and a number of Indigenous health leaders from across the region gathered to unveil some new artwork, meant to welcome patients to the hospital, as well as several other Interior Health institutions across the region.

Six etched glass pieces welcoming patients to Health Care centres on Secwepemc territory done by Splatsin Indian Band Artist Tony Antoine were unveiled at Royal Inland Hospital.

“I love how it’s rooted in the traditional Secwepemc territory,” IH Board Member Selena Lawrie told CFJC Today. “[Tony] is utilizing pictographs that are found within our nation.”

Two of the pieces will be displayed at entrances to Royal Inland Hospital, while others will be sent to health care centres in Barriere, Chase, Clearwater, and Salmon Arm, and will inform users of those facilities that they’re on Secwepemc traditional territory.

“I think it’s part of our journey in terms of reconciliation,” Lawrie said.

“Artwork is one small step that can help us,” Charlene Belleau said.

Belleau is Chief of the Esk’étemc First Nation at Alkali Lake and serves as a member of the Secwepemc Health Caucus. She says for many members of First Nations communities, the institution of health care still carries the stigma of the residential school system.

“These institutions, a lot of times, will represent … residential school, or facilities where to go and what to do,” Belleau explained. “It’s difficult.”

For Belleau, she sees gestures like this as an important step in ensuring inclusion for the indigenous community in our health care system but also feels more can be done.

“To be able to recognize the traditional medicines and things we had prior to the introduction of medications,” Belleau said. “How do we work on something like that so that those things become part of the hospitals and the doctor’s care?”

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