AFOW opens doors for Squamish, Lil’wat 

American Friends of Whistler donate $50,000 for cedar entry doors to cultural centre

click to enlarge In Progress A carver works on cedar entry doors for Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre.
  • In Progress A carver works on cedar entry doors for Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre.

Whistler’s Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is receiving a grant of $50,000 from the American Friends of Whistler (AFOW) for its massive carved cedar entry doors.

Jodie Broomfield from the Squamish Nation and Johnnie Abraham, Jonathon Joe and Bruce Edmonds of the Lil’wat Nation are the artists commissioned to design and carve the entrance pieces.

The artists are in the final stages of design planning. The Squamish design is a person giving thanks and welcoming newcomers, with the mountains of the territory in the background. The Lil’wat design is a traditional interpretation of nature using a bear holding a salmon in its paws. The same artisans will paint the inside of the doors with a design based on an old spindle whorl design that is housed at the Burke Museum. The two entrance doors will be separated by a carved centre panel which will hold the centre’s logo.

“When the AFOW board first heard about plans to build the centre we immediately agreed that we wanted to show our support for this magnificent new addition to the Whistler community which will showcase First Nations’ culture and history,” said Rod Rohda. “We were honoured to be given the opportunity to make a grant for the entrance doors which will provide visitors their initial impression of what’s inside.”

Squamish Chief Gibby Jacob and Lil’wat Chief Leonard Andrew said that they were touched by the AFOWs immediate enthusiasm for the centre and were very pleased that visitors will enter the new building through doors made possible by American Friends.

The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is designed in the forms of a Squamish Longhouse and Lil’wat Istken (pit house), with pictograph-adorned boulders gracing the walkways along the approach. Opening in June 2008, the centre will showcase Squamish-Lil’wat shared history and culture to the world. A multi-media theatre, outdoor arts and crafts demonstration area, First Nations gift shop, café and catering facility will form the centre, located in a spectacular natural setting on a 1.76 hectare site within walking distance of Whistler Village.

The AFOW is a non-profit organization founded in 2002 which has, to date, granted almost $300,000 to Whistler community organizations. They recently gave Whistler Search and Rescue a custom-built 4x4 rescue vehicle and they donated funds to the Whistler Health Clinic for a bedside ultrasound unit.


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