A nine-metre tall metal sculpture by a local Indigenous artist is on prominent display in Okanagan College’s new Health Sciences Centre in Kelowna.
Spanning the building’s three storeys and built by Clint George, a member of the Penticton Indian Band, the sculpture represents the Four Food Chiefs, depicting the Syilx Okanagan oral history (or captikʷɬ) on how food was given. He said the art will create opportunities to explore health and wellness from an Indigenous perspective.
“I think it’s very important when any image of the Four Food Chiefs goes up in the Okanagan or anywhere, that you give it an image that people are going to ask questions about and in that case, it helps teach people about who we are and where we came from,” said George, whose traditional name is Wapupxn.
James Coble, director of student services and Indigenization Task Force chair at Okanagan College, said the sculpture is part of the college’s continued commitment to creating welcoming spaces for Indigenous students.
“We’re excited to have such an amazing work of art so prominently displayed. One of our goals is to use expressions of Indigenous culture, like this one, as a way to initiate meaningful conversations for the benefit of all learners at Okanagan College,” said Coble.
The project was undertaken with guidance from Westbank First Nation and funded through support from several donors including the Health Sciences Centre’s architect, GEC Architecture, project manager Faction Projects and the construction team Stuart Olson Construction.
“This beautiful sculpture creates a culturally relevant space where we can offer more Indigenous-based programming such as storytelling, workshops and ceremonial activities all with the goal of increasing our education and awareness amongst the OC community,” said Anthony Isaac, Okanagan College’s Indigenization project manager.