Lilwat showcase art 

Sale highlights local First Nations art

By Cindy Filipenko

The Lil’wat Nations second Gathering of the Artists shows Sunday, April 29 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Mount Currie Gym. The event is a great opportunity for people to view or purchase Lil’wat art, with pieces varying in price from a few dollars - for an example of simple beading - to more than $500 for complicated basketry.

Artists will also be contributing items for a loonie auction, an opportunity for people to take a chance on winning a piece of art for one dollar.

“People will see forms of Lil’wat art of baskets, drums, beadwork accessories, paintings and carvings showcasing traditional and contemporary art,” explained Lois Joseph of the Lil’wat7ul Culture Centre.

Two hand-hewn canoes, crafted by Lil’wat members Bruce Edmonds, Jonathan Joe and Lenny Andrew, the first one under the supervision of Squamish Nation canoe builder, Ray Natrell, will be on display. The canoes, as well as some of the basketry that will be shown at the Gathering of the Artists, are eventually destined to be on display at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre under construction in Whistler.

However, fine arts won’t be the entire focus of the afternoon, which will also feature dancing and drumming performances. And to help make it a hands-on learning experience, attendees will be able to participate in low-cost workshops, either choosing to make a mini-drum or beaded choker for $5. Food and beverages will also be for sale onsite.

Joseph, also known as Mamaya7, is herself an accomplished dancer and Mt. Currie Band councillor. Through these connections, and her work at the Lil’wat7úl Culture Centre, she has become very active in the local arts community.

“We have about 110 artists here,” said Joseph, noting that plans are in the works to develop a Lil’wat arts council. “The objective is for our artists to be proud of our unique culture arts with the knowledge, skill and growth as professional entrepreneurs.”

The artists Joseph speaks of are a diverse group, ranging from youth to elders.

“We have people who have been doing it for years, and we have new basket weavers that follow the footsteps of their ancestors that are some of the youngest.”

The basket weavers are a group of energetic young women who undertook the craft last year under the guidance of accomplished weaver Vera Edmonds.

Joseph speaks proudly of the success of 28 programs the centre has offered in the last year, from courses in the Lil’wat people’s traditional language to the aforementioned basket weaving course.

High demand for the programs has meant that until recently they have only been available to the Lil’wat community. However, ongoing drum-making workshops are now open to non-First Nations people.

“Its open to anyone who would like to learn how to make a drum,” Joseph said.

For a cost of $100, participants end up with a finished, painted 15” drum and handcrafted drumming stick.

For more information about the Gathering of the Artists, to register for a drum-making workshop or to make an appointment to visit the Lil’wat7úl Culture Centre call 604-894-5826

The Mt. Currie Gym is located just off Portage Rd. (Highway 99) near the Mt. Currie Band office.

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