The learning centre with the new colours (Photo courtesy of Westbank First Nation)

Paint project brings Westbank First Nation learning centre to life

WFN announced completion of project in late November

A renovated Westbank First Nation (WFN) sənsisyustən House of Learning centre has been brought to life with a fresh coat of paint.

Using vivid colours, lead artist Janine Lott and designer Colin Crabbe used their skills to spruce up the building by helping to paint First Nations’ artwork on its walls.

Christopher Derickson outlines his priorities as newly elected Westbank First Nation chief

The artwork is the final step to complete $9 million worth of renovations, which started in June of 2018.

Lott said it wasn’t easy to decide what objects would receive the blue, green and red colours.

“Some of the difficulties were picking colours. It doesn’t matter how many pieces there area, there is a price for each colour,” Lott said.

“It was a challenge to pick out what parts would be coloured and how they’d be portrayed the best they could.”

On the inside of the building, Lott said four different Okanagan/Syilx food chiefs were coloured to symbolize how food is interconnected in nature.

“The four food chiefs coloured included Chief Spitlem (bitter root) Chief Siya (Saskatoon Berry,) Chief Ntyxtix (salmon) and Chief Skemxisst (black bear).”

Lott said the colours are meant to get the children excited about Okanagan/Syilx culture who learn in the centre everyday.

“I really wanted the artwork to be friendly for children,” said Lott.

“I wanted it to be something that was cheery for children going in and out of centre everyday.”

Patricia Derickson was another prominent Nsyilxcen artist who complete much of the artwork around the building’s front steps and classroom doors.

During the unveiling of the facility in September, WFN chief Chris Derickson said he’s like to turn the facility into a full-immersion Nsyilxcen language school in the future.

WFN is one of seven First Nation communities that make up the Okanagan Nation where the nsyilxcən language is spoken.


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