June 21 was National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day recognizing and celebrating the cultures and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Indigenous peoples of Canada.
In the past seven months, the Rotary Centre for the Arts (RCA) showcased seven performances, art talks, and art exhibitions from local and national Indigenous people. Cree-born Tom Jackson, a triple threat actor, musician, and humanitarian and one of Canada’s favourite and most honoured Indigenous performers, teamed up with the RCA to support the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank in his virtual presentation of the Huron Carole. With ancestral roots in the Lheidli T’enneh, Cree, and Secwépemc Nations, singer-songwriter-artist Kym Gouchie presented a virtual music performance followed by an audience interactive art talk discussion to foster change through her music and art bringing awareness to First Nations and women’s issues and promoting reconciliation and community building. Westbank First Nations youth artist Coralee Miller created an indoor mural installation at the RCA open daily to the public that speaks to Truth and Reconciliation and is an invitation for viewers to consider our relationship to the waters of the Okanagan and the spirit of the lake.
In partnership with the City of Kelowna and BC Arts Council, the RCA invited the community to a Syilx/ Okanagan Nation performing arts celebration. The Living Our Art Celebration & Fill Your Basket Artisan Market, brought to life by multi-talented Syilx/ Okanagan artist and show producer Krystal Lezard, was a collaboration of live performance with singers, dancers, drummers, and contemporary pieces presented by multiple Syilx artists. The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) and the UBCO Indigenous Art Intensive showcased an outdoor iArt Gallery featuring and curated by national Indigenous artists inspiring people to learn more about Indigenous contemporary art. To commemorate National Indigenous History Month, the RCA featured Shi’kéé Indigenous youth and young adults art exhibition, an exhibition of emerging Indigenous youth artists presented by the UBC Okanagan Indigenous Art Intensive to expand the public conception of what contemporary Indigenous art is and can be. The RCA seeks applications from creative and diverse youth from Kelowna and West Kelowna to join its new RCA Youth Arts Council encouraging youth to gain leadership skills while shaping youth presence in the Kelowna arts scene in 2021, with outreach to Indigenous Youth to apply. The RCA continues to present meaningful and important arts and culture experiences to recognize the history, heritage, and diversity of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada.
Currently, we have three Indigenous art exhibits for the community. We are a Piano in the Park Ambassador for 2021. Our piano, now located in front of our building for the summer, was painted with an Indigenous theme, by two Indigenous artists, Westbank First Nations youth artist Coralee Miller and Barb Dawson from the Tlingit nation. The RCA is also featuring the UBCO Shi’kéé Indigenous Youth and Young Adults Summer Art Exhibition. “Shi’kéé”, curated by Maura Tamez, currently showing in the Alex Fong Galleria, is an exhibition of emerging Indigenous youth artists presented by the UBC Okanagan Indigenous Art Intensive and the RCA.The exhibition focuses on Indigenous youth and young adults and draws on themes of Indigenous ingenuity, entrepreneurship, creative arts, and traditional practices. It includes a close look at regalia, adornment, and contemporary arts. Additionally, the RCA together with TOTA and UBCO’s Indigenous Art Intensive program present a screening of video works in the mobile iArt Gallery spending two months at the RCA and two months in downtown Kelowna for the summer “Meet Me On Bernard” open streets project. The digital art exhibit, curated by Tania Willard of UBCO, inspires people to visit the gallery and learn more about Indigenous contemporary art.
The iArt Gallery is a mobile Indigenous gallery, the exhibition Being out on the Land: Feeds, Streams, and Captures presents a series of projected video works as an installation inside. The iArt gallery also has a stage that can accommodate small-scale dance and musical performances. The detailing of the trailer is based on the Osoyoos Cultural Centre which was created using the technique of rammed earth. This process entails the layering of cement combined with local soils and minerals to create the beautiful colour variation.
Matt Ferguson Photography