Healing art at PRH

Chelsea Powrie

A new art installation at the Penticton Regional Hospital honours its place on Penticton Indian Band land, and symbolizes reconciliation. 

Artist Clint George was born at the hospital, and recently underwent heart surgery there as well. His piece, entitled "Purifying Sculpture," is a sculpture of a large abalone shell, bundle of sweetgrass and a seven-foot-long feather — the materials for a ceremonial smudging. 

"When I was asked to do this sculpture, it didn't take more than one minute for me to figure out what I was actually going to do," George said. "These are tools for prayer that are used by North American Indians all around, and other places in the world as well."

Okanagan Nation hereditary chief Adam Eneas was emotional as he introduced the unveiling. He shared the story of how the hospital had provided a space for his family to engage in cultural ceremonial practices last year, when his daughter was there dying. 

"It's good to see that kind of understanding, that kind of support, the willingness to be open-minded, to welcome different customs and embrace those," Eneas said. "In that way, you show your empathy, your understanding of the different cultures. And that's what this sculpture will symbolize."

The artwork, located next to the entrance, is intended to ensure Indigenous people feel safe and acknowledged at the hospital. 

"Reconciliation with our First Nations and Aboriginal peoples needs to be more than a gesture," said heath service administrator Carl Meadows. "You have to 'feel to heal and tell to get well.'"

The metallic sculpture is six feet by four feet, and is located to the right of the main entrance of the hospital for the public to view. 

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