By Michael Potestio, Kamloops This Week
It was an honour for artist Tony Antoine to unveil his artwork of traditional Secwepemc symbols that will hang with pride in hospitals around the Interior Health region.
“It means a lot to me because I’ve been doing artwork a long time and it’s just hard for artists to get recognized,” Antoine said.
Antoine’s glass etchings were revealed at Royal Inland Hospital on Monday, each with the messages “Welcome to Shuswap country” and “TsuMinte re Secwepemc,” meaning you are on the traditional territory of the Secwepemc Nation and you are welcome here.
The pieces of art are designed to ensure hospitals around the region are culturally sensitive and welcoming of First Nations peoples.
“I think it’s highly symbolic of the relationship that we continue to develop with our Secwepemc and other nations within the health authority,” said Interior Health board member Selena Lawrie.
“I think it is a path of reconciliation,” she added, noting there are many more steps to take.
Antoine’s designs for Interior Health feature Indigenous symbols such as summer and winter homes, animal tracks and a pictograph that can be found within the traditional Secwepemc territory.
Six etchings were produced by Antoine. Two will hang near the entrance of RIH, while the other four will find homes at the Barriere Health Centre, Chase Health Centre, Shuswap Lake General Hospital in Salmon Arm and Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in Clearwater.
Antoine, who hails from the Splatsin community within the Secwepemc territory, has practised various forms of art since his childhood, including wood carving, wood burning and painting.
“I started to get into glass etching probably eight or nine years ago because I didn’t really see too many people doing glass etching,” he said.