The original goal of Westside Culture Days was to bring our scattered community together through partnership between business and culture. While that idea included keeping politics out of the equation, I realized at the beginning of this venture that this might not be realistic but I hoped for the best.
When Tracy Satin, Heritage Officer with the Westbank First Nation Sncəwips (sen-ch-wee-ps) Heritage Museum first heard of this venture, she voiced the practical application right away.
“The very identity and philosophy of Westbank First Nation embraces support of their culture, and the voice of the community is the Museum. One of our goals is to connect and work with other groups. Of course we’ll be involved!” said Tracy Satin.
For me, it was very educational. It is such a drastic difference where we as non WFN artists are fighting for culture to be recognized as an important facet of every day living, and that culture really is a part of our identity and deserves validation. Imagine how I felt after presenting the idea and then be told immediately, yes and how can we work together for our mutual success?
Sncəwips is a living Heritage Museum and encourages the WFN community to reach its full potential supported by other facets of their government. The economic success of WFN is directly tied to their embracing and support of their cultural values.
Through Canadian Culture Days, there is an opportunity for each community/municipality to commit to a Declaration supporting culture. The Westbank First Nation Culture Days Declaration will be signed early September and will be presented by Councillor Brian Eli on September 25. It will be proudly displayed in the Museum gallery.
The Museum also supports the students in their community by working to develop relationships and encouraging their interaction. Coralee Miller, who is also a multi-dimensional WFN artist, was the summer student assigned to Westside Culture Days and was a true pleasure to work with. Coralee will have her work on display at Westbank Blenz.
Sncəwips will be open 11-3 Saturday and Sunday. Jordan Coble, Heritage Researcher, will be presenting a series of half hour phonetic sessions on how to pronounce syilx/ Okanagan language words we are seeing more and more in this community. If you can’t make it to one of these sessions, go to the Museum; there are very cool interactive buttons that you can play with.
Also presented throughout the weekend will be Marion Radawetz jewelry artist, Okanagan themed artwork as well as the current well interpreted exhibition. I encourage you to go in, it’s quite enlightening.
Other First Nation artists include Janine Lott, Stewart Jacobs, Noll Derickson, Linda Lavelle, Lorraine Cornish, and Maggie Lynne are being presented at Libertine’s at Westbank Shopping Centre and nearby is The Nations Gallery featuring WFN artists Pat Raphael, Holly Bob, Sheldon P. Louis, Judi Garner Neihaus, Tashina-Mae Raphael. The list continues to grow.
If you are First Nation and want to get involved, please contact Tracy Satin or Jordan Coble at the Sncəwips Heritage Museum, 201 – 1979 Old Okanagan Highway, Estate Square, email@example.com or 778-755-2787. Regular hours are 10-4 pm Monday to Friday.
Culture is a way of life; it is what we do every day. Authentic living is embracing and acknowledging all aspects of life for both oneself and for others. Some people gain joy from creative expression, some people gain joy of expression through physical activity, their chosen business, cooking or story telling.
We are so incredibly fortunate our community has the cultural riches and those willing to share. Make a point to come out and you will re-discover the many gems we have waiting and available to our citizens. Get to know your community. Embrace your culture.
I think the rest of our community could learn a valuable lesson from WFN, and studies have been done on the validity and connection between economic growth and sustainability based on the embrace of a cultural foundation. But that is the difference between our two governments – we study and theorize instead of saying we know it’s important, let’s do it.
Julia Trops is a Westside artist and author of the book Art & Money. Email info@WestsideCultureDays.com