On June 24, 2019, the Department of Women and Gender Equity announced that the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre was a successful recipient of the federal Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Commemoration Fund.
The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Commemoration Fund is designed to support Indigenous organizations to work with families, survivors and communities to develop and implement commemoration initiatives and honour the lives and legacies of local women and girls who have been so tragically taken.
About the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre’s MMIWG Mural Project: At the Heart
A Healing Journey
Through this project, the Friendship Centre will produce a mural on our main street building, situated on traditional unceded Cas Yikh territory, at Main Street and 2nd Avenue, in downtown Smithers, BC.
The mural will honour the lives and legacies of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls from the communities of Smithers, Witset, and surrounded areas situated along Highway 16 (The Highway of Tears).
The project however, is not only designed to produce a mural. It is a healing journey. One of the key goals of the project is to ensure families can move through a trauma informed process to commemorate their loved ones.
Through summer 2020, the Friendship Centre held a series of healing trauma-informed design process workshops for the families with Indigenous Focusing Complex Trauma facilitator, Sandra Harris, providing body-centred, land-based healing approaches.
The mural artists, Raven-Tacuara, attended each of the workshops to witness the families’ stories and their healing journey. The artists then worked with the families throughout 2020 to co-create the mural design via online workshop sessions due to COVID-19.
Through this process, by harnessing the power of public art, the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre hopes to support local families of MMIWG and bring the community together, Indigenous and Non-Indigenous, to honour the women and girls and their families and to heal.
At the Heart Project Activities:
2. Co-creation of mural design (Raven-Tacuara Collective and families)
3. Mural Painting
4. Commemorative signage and information station development
5.Community engagement, awareness and commemoration activities
About the Mural Artists: Raven-Tacuara
The Raven-Tacuara is the artist group that was chosen by the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre to work with the local families of MMIWG from our communities to co-create the At the Heart mural. The Raven-Tacuara collective consists of four professional artists from northwest British Columbia, working together as an artist collective to produce collaborative murals. Together, the artists have created a number of prominent murals in northern BC, including Smithers and Terrace, and between them have over 30 years experience in the creation of public art.
Stephanie Anderson is Wit’suwit’en from the Laksilyu clan. Stephanie is a carver and a painter who currently resides in Kitselas territory.
“As a Wet’suwet’en woman, I will be forever grateful to have connected with the families involved with the “At the Heart” mural project. I hope that through our work together we can all reflect on the history of MMIW in our yintah and come together to heal for our future generations.” ~ Stephanie Anderson.
Amanda Hugon is from the Sto:lo Nation, Coast Salish and Metis that lives in Kitselas territory. “I’m humbled to be part of this project that is so close to my heart, I’m thankful to have the opportunity to listen to the families and honoured to translate their vision and share the love of the Art to help them in their journey of healing for the future” ~ Amanda Hugon.
Facundo Gastiazoro is an Argentinian born artist with a Witchi/Lebanes background (first nations also known as Matacos). He has lived on Gidimt’en territory for over 15 years. “I am honoured to be able to play a role in such a prominent piece of public art that will have such a significant and positive impact on our community, both socially and culturally.” ~ Facundo Gastiazoro.
Travis Hebert is a Cree/Metis artist and musician who grew up and lives in the Witsuwit’en reserve of Witset.
Find them on facebook: @RavenTacuara
The Friendship Centre wishes to acknowledge our staff who have dedicated their time to making this project possible:
- Annette Morgan: Executive Director, Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre
- Elmira Sanati Nia: Project Coordinator | Holistic Health Worker at Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre
- Gaylene Morris: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Family Support Worker
- Lydia Howard: Housing Advisor and Economic Development Officer
- Sandra Harris: Facilitator and Indigenous Focusing Complex Trauma (IFOT) practitioner’
The Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society wishes to acknowledge the families who participated in this project, without your courage, openness and collaboration this beautiful mural project would not have been possible.
For more information about this project and media inquiries:
Phone: call 250-847-5211