The goal of this project is to commemorate the lives and legacies of local Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls from our community. This project would not be possible without the local family members who have been supporting this project since the beginning with the hope of healing at a personal and community level.
Indigenous trauma-informed design process workshops | July 17-19
Due to COVID-19, we adjusted our plans and decided to have each family group attend the workshops separately to reduce interaction between people outside of ‘family bubbles’
From July 17-19th, we held a weekend of workshops with a different day designated to each participating family. Our staff ensured strict protocols were in place regarding physical distancing, mask-wearing and sanitization.
Our Indigenous Trauma-Informed facilitator, Sandra Harris, led the families through a safe and culturally appropriate body-centred and land-based healing method. A second counsellor, Judy Wesley, was there for extra support for the families through their healing journey, along with Friendship Centre staff.
Throughout the workshops, the family members opened up their hearts and shared their love for women and girls who they love dearly and whom they wish to ensure are never forgotten. During the workshops, artists were present to observe, listen, as well as discuss with the families the process involved in designing a mural.
Through the process, the artists witnessed how the families wish for their love-ones to be remembered through symbolic artistic representation.
Honouring the Families
July 18 | Camus Photography
Our goal was to ensure the families felt honoured, and as such, we put a great deal of effort into the workshops. We hired a range of local businesses to ensure high-quality catering, including Two Sisters Cafe, Riverside Kitchen, and Rustica Bakery.
We also provided personalized gifts to participants which we purchased through Smokescreen graphics and Wetsuwet’en Native Arts. We were able to hire Camus Photography to document the event and take portraits of the families for commemorative photo books.
We had the opportunity to ask Camus Photography to document the workshops as well as take portraits of the families.
Moving Forward – August-September
Design in progress: Raven-Tacuara Collective has now begun working to interpret the memories and stories into an artistic design for the mural. The artists will work diligently to ensure that the correct protocols are followed for any traditional Witsuwi’ten designs on the mural.
Online workshops to discuss mural design: We will hold an online workshop with the families and artists in early August to ensure continued collaboration through designing the mural.
Additional counselling sessions with Sandra Harris available: Families have the opportunity to have follow-up healing session with Sandra via phone upon request.
Community Engagement: Due to COVID-19, the Friendship Centre is unable to host our planned inclusive community-wide unveiling event later this fall. Instead, we will be ensuring online engagement with the project. We are now offering all community members the opportunity to send messages of support and honouring to the families. A selection of these messages will be published and shared with the families.
Painting the Mural: We expect the artists to begin painting in early September.
“Families like ours who have lost loved ones are grieving and will always be, the memories are so difficult, and the negative memories impact us here in the town of Smithers. This mural, honouring our loved ones, will change this lens. With this mural, we can begin to heal and help to make our hearts soft again,” – Jacquie Bowes, a cousin of 18-year-old mother Jessica Patrick (Balczer) who went missing in September 2018