New exhibit at Sncewips Heritage Museum delves into what it means to be syilx

A new exhibit at the museum, located on Westbank First Nation, asks what does it mean to be syilx?. Global News

What does it mean to be syilx?

That’s the name of the newest exhibit at the Sncewips Heritage Museum on Westbank First Nation.

“It was created with our community over the last month,” museum communications coordinator Kayt Ell said of the exhibit. “We did four different painted tour events when we had community members come in.

“They got a guided tour and then they were asked to paint what stood out to them, what it means to be syilx.”

Ell says it’s an opportunity to showcase the art and talent of the Okanagan people with Canadians.

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“A big part of who we are, and the way we have been, is that we’ve lost our identities and we’ve lost our way because of residential schools, because of the Indian Act. And for so long it was bad to be an Indian,” said Ell.

“And now this exhibit is celebrating what it means to be Indigenous and what it means to be syilx.”

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Coralee Miller is the tour guide for the facility and says this is an important time for everyone, including Indigenous people, as there is a thirst for knowledge and information.

She says not all conversations about Indigenous history will be pretty, but they are important to have in order to move on with the healing process.

“The thing is that the truth can be uncomfortable. But discomfort is necessary if you’re going to learn and we’re going to move forward together,” said Miller.

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“Residential schools are only a drop in the bucket of all the travesties that have happened. And what I really want to emphasize, too, is that yes, those things happened, but we’re also amazing people, we have a rich culture, we have a beautiful language.”

The exhibit also gives visitors a chance to answer the question “what does it mean to be Canadian?” as a way of exploring the identities of two of the many groups of people who call the Okanagan home.

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