June marked National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day.
As deputy mayor, I was honoured to attend two memorable and meaningful events held in Salmon Arm.
On June 21, the Switzmalph Cultural Society and the R.J. Haney Heritage Heritage Park and Museum hosted a Blessing Ceremony for the unveiling of the new exhibition about Secwépemc elder, the late Dr. Mary Thomas. Knucwentwecw: the Bridges built by Dr. Mary Thomas features photographs, interviews and cultural artifacts celebrating her life, work and legacy. The exhibition, housed in the Montebello museum building, was co-curated by Dr. Thomas’s youngest daughter Bonnie and Deborah Chapman of Haney. Since 2018, much collaborative work has been undertaken to bring together a historic display and a series of recorded interviews highlighting her lifelong commitment to the protection of traditional plants, environmentalism and conservation. The exhibition will run until September 2023.
On June 25, the Secwépemc Landmark Sculpture at Marine Peach Park was unveiled in a touching ceremony hosted by Adams Lake Band Councillor and In-Kind Project Lead Shelley Witzky, honouring Elders and all those whose work contributed to the design, build, installation and ceremonial blessing of the sculpture. The sculpture shares the stories, landscapes and symbols of the Secwépemc through rock and metal carving. The landmark project will see eight sculptures across the territory and dozens of trailhead posts modelled after Secwépemc Coyote Pillars. The Secwépemc project is a collaboration between Adams Lake Band, Neskonlith Band, Little Shuswap Lake Band and Splatsin, with support from the Shuswap Trail Alliance and many other community partners.
I am profoundly grateful to have been invited to participate on behalf of the City of Salmon Arm. As we head into the summer season, I invite and encourage each of you to take the time to visit the exhibition at Haney and view the sculpture at the wharf in the spirit of reconciliation and learning. When we share meaningful stories, we gain greater understanding of one another and that understanding is foundational to a sustainable, inclusive and healthy community building.
Louise Wallace Richmond is a councillor/deputy mayor with the City of Salmon Arm.
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