Making the Youth Recovery House a Home
Nov 26, 2021

It wasn’t very long ago that we were announcing the opening of Phase I of the Okanagan Youth Recovery House. Throughout the campaign, we’ve been dedicated to making a safe and welcoming space for young people from all communities. In order to do that, we have consulted with focus groups of families, communities, and young people.

We were so fortunate to be able to work alongside the Westbank First Nation (WFN) youth council. They shared impactful information, wording, and imagery that could be incorporated into the décor and design at the Youth Recovery House to ensure the space felt safe and comfortable. We shared the ideas with WFN councillor, Jordan Coble, who helped to interpret the phrases in sylix and suggested the use of art to capture their meaning. Two of the interpretations that really resonated were:

We are happy you have arrived: kʷu liḿt kʷckick

Be kind to yourself: x̌smǹcut

Thanks to a collaboration with Westbank First Nation and the Sncewips Heritage Museum, we were able to put an artist call-out up to begin the search for sylix artists interested in creating pieces for the Youth Recovery House. We are so grateful for all artists' thoughtful submissions that were received. We’re excited to announce that sylix/Okanagan artist extraordinaire, Coralee Miller, was selected to commission paintings for both phrases and to be able to share the final work and descriptions with you.

Learn more about the meaning behind both paintings below:

Two comissioned paintings from sylix.okanagan artist coralee miller representing sylix interpreted phrases for the bridge youth recovery house

We are happy you have arrived: kʷu liḿt kʷckick

Acrylic on Canvas

Coralee Miller

I use color to drive the message of welcoming and healing. The yellow represents the east within the medicine wheel and it represents springtime, infancy and renewal. The use of yellow as the major background color is to remind visitors to be gentle with themselves and each other as we are beginning anew and we are starting with a fresh slate. Red is a protective color, it is the color of blood, the vital life essence and it represents the south of the medicine wheel. The south represents springtime, youth and lessons. It is vital for youth to go forth and make mistakes because that is how we not only learn about our world but reveal to ourselves our own strengths. The sweet grass is a common fist that is offered through many different nations within the interior salish and prairie/plains people. The braids are a reminder that we are all interwoven with each other, the land and animals. Finally the pictograph images of the canoe represents arrival and the images of the pot homes up top represent home, safety, and hospitality.

 

Be kind to yourself: x̌smǹcut

Acrylic on Canvas

Coralee Miller

The use of green represents sage, a plant that when dried and burned is used to cleanse ourselves and our area of any negative energy. The two women are really just one person split in two to better represent the need to be forgiving and kind to not only our bodies but to our spirit, mind and to validate our emotions through self-expression. Love and self-acceptance come from within, from my own experience it is difficult to forgive and love oneself as easily as we do it for others. The purple hearts represent hurt but also the active move to healing those hurts. The turtle represents dreaming and quiet contemplation as well as the bravery it takes to make a difference. Eagle represents spirituality but also opportunity.

 

These two paintings will join the land acknowledgment that is depicted in sylix and English on the walls of the Youth Recovery House.  We will continue to ensure the space is welcoming for all the young people who choose to stay with us. A very special thank you goes to the Rotary Club of Kelowna for their generous donation allowing us to ‘make this house a home’ by commissioning these works of art.