The WLC is pleased to unveil a series of recommendations and artist profiles designed to reestablish the prevalence and respect for W̱SÁNEĆ art within the territory.
Artist: Doug LaFortune. Installation at UpTown Mall
For thousands of years, W̱SÁNEĆ culture was freely expressed through art using an array of mediums for many different purposes. The diversity of art traditionally created and displayed ranged from intricately carved household objects, woven Chiefs’ regalia, and massive carved and painted house posts. Prior to the arrival of settlers, W̱SÁNEĆ art–and, with it, the expression of a distinctly W̱SÁNEĆ identity–was both a sacred and ubiquitous part of everyday life.
After the arrival of settlers, the practice of creating and displaying W̱SÁNEĆ art and culture was threatened and very nearly extinguished. W̱SÁNEĆ culture was criminalized, and during the very worst of colonialism, W̱SÁNEĆ art was stolen from the people, from the land and even from ancestors’ graves in a concerted effort to erase W̱SÁNEĆ culture.
Artist: Mark Henry, installation at Bayside Middle School
Territorial markers and art were removed, stolen and placed in museums, sustaining the myth that W̱SÁNEĆ people and the W̱SÁNEĆ way of life is extinct. Graves were robbed and both remains and grave markers were stolen. W̱SÁNEĆ regalia was confiscated and at times burned by the RCMP, churches, and other public institutions. Unfortunately, the effects of such brutal colonization are ongoing and present in the way W̱SÁNEĆ Art is treated today.
Often, commissions fail to consult with the artist on W̱SÁNEĆ cultural practices and thus fail to account for the need for proper cultural ceremonies during the unveiling of art pieces. Other times, art is installed without proper SENĆOŦEN signage providing critical W̱SÁNEĆ context of peoples and places. And, all too often, W̱SÁNEĆ artists are the last to know about opportunities for art installations within W̱SÁNEĆ territory.
There are significant resources allocated to creating and installing art within the CRD. Even so, W̱SÁNEĆ Artists report being overlooked on the premise of budget.
As part of its mandate to promote respect for W̱SÁNEĆ Culture, the WLC is pleased to announce the creation of an Art Protocol and Artist Profile section on its website. The Art Protocol is intended to educate private and public institutions on how to take part in W̱SÁNEĆ Nation Rebuilding, stop perpetuating harmful colonial practices and respectfully engage with the W̱SÁNEĆ Art and Artists that specialize in public outdoor installations and sculptures. Suggestions for Artists who specialize in other mediums, such as knitting and weaving, will follow at a later date.
Artists: Tom and Perry LaFortune. Installation in front of the Ministry of Health
The art protocol project took place over the course of a year. Artists were interviewed and profiled and samples of their art were gathered. In addition to the guidelines on how to respectfully engage with W̱SÁNEĆ art, detailed profiles of each artist and their work are showcased.
Both the Art Protocol and Artist Profiles will serve to support W̱SÁNEĆ Artists and thus help to elevate the presence and respect for W̱SÁNEĆ culture within the territory.
- View the Art Protocol
- Browse W̱SÁNEĆ Artists
- Are you a W̱SÁNEĆ artist that specializes in outdoor public art pieces? Apply to have your art included on the website, please email your biography and artist statement, how to get in touch with you and three images from your portfolio to firstname.lastname@example.org.