First Nations art commemorates historic health agreement

Three works of art commemorate a long standing effort of the ONA and Interior Health to foster a positive health partnership.

One of the donated art pieces from the Okanagan Nation Alliance to be displayed by local hospitals in Kelowna

An unveiling took place last week at Kelowna General Hospital as three paintings by local Indigenous artists of the Syilx Nation were presented on behalf of the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA).

The paintings, commissioned by the ONA to commemorate a long standing effort of the ONA and Interior Health to foster a positive health partnership, will be displayed at the hospitals in Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon.

The artists painted three beautiful and different works, representing the traditional and modern Syilx experience in the Okanagan territory.

KGH will receive the painting titled Piqa?—Digging Stick by artist Sheldon Pierre Louis, which will be displayed in the main lobby of the Centennial building.

The historic health partnership was signed between the ONA, the Okanagan Tribal Council and IH on June 13, 2012.

The Letter of Under-standing is a commitment by both partners to work together to improve health outcomes for First Nations people and to deliver appropriate and culturally safe health care services.

Through continued collaboration, ONA and IH leaders are making strides towards reducing barriers and creating welcoming spaces for aboriginal people accessing health services.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, chair of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, said, “The Letter of Understanding is a monumental agreement for the Aboriginal people of the Okanagan.

“As First Nations people continue to face poorer health outcomes than non-Indigenous Canadians, this marked an important step forward in developing a more respectful and collaborative relationship.”

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick added: “We…share this amazing region with the First Nations people who have lived here long before us and these paintings and this agreement are great strides in ensuring our continued partnership and growth in this location we all call home.”