Glass etchings created by a Secwepemc artist will soon grace the entrances of two hospitals in the Cariboo.
The handiwork of Splatsin First Nation artist Tony Antoine, the art was unveiled Thursday in Williams Lake as one of the pieces will be installed at Cariboo Memorial Hospital and the other one in 100 Mile House General Hospital.
“It’s an honour for us to have a Secwepemc artist do the work for us,” said Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Ann Louie. “To have Interior Health Authority start recognizing First Nations culture is very important to us.”
Outgoing IH president and CEO Chris Mazurkewich said Antoine’s work in other facilities has been well received.
“It’s important to have the art work placed in our facilities and recognize the traditional territories and as part of the reconciliation and healing process that’s taking place,” Mazurkewich said.
Tammy Tugnam, Interior Health director, said one of the key goals of the IH board is to work alongside First Nations and Aboriginal partners to plan and deliver culturally sensitive health care services.
“This is a partnership and relationship and we are committed to make that grow,” Tugnam said, noting the artwork will serve as a long-standing reminder of the agreements that have been made, the work IH has been doing and the work that still needs to be done.
Londea Riffel, Secwepemc Health Caucus hub co-ordinator said she looks forward to seeing the art installed.
“These pieces of art are one of a kind and we have nine pieces to go up throughout the nation,” Riffel said. “If other people would like them in small band or health offices get in touch with our office.”
Laura Boothby, acute health services director for the Cariboo emceed the unveiling and said the artwork is a symbol of the hospitals’ commitment to provide culturally competent care.
Antoine said as a child he loved to colour and draw to keep himself busy and later began painting.
“I went to school for traditional wood carving at K’san in Hazelton, B.C. for a couple of years, and after that I decided I’d like to do glass etching because I hadn’t really seen anyone else doing it,” Antoine said. “I taught myself how to do it by starting with an etching cream.”
Antoine said it was an honour to be part of the process of creating artwork for health care facilities and he was glad to attend the unveiling.