A new work of art was unveiled at the University Hospital of Northern BC today.
The art piece, ‘Community Hearts,’ created by Métis artist Carla Joseph, welcomes visitors to the hospital in the Carrier language.
This new art work and welcome was a collaborative piece, with language for the welcome message contributed by Lheidli T’enneh Elders Mary Gouchie and Darlene McIntosh. The project itself was a commission called for by the Prince George and Area Aboriginal Health Improvement Committee (AHIC). AHICs are action-oriented groups that support improved health and well-being with Indigenous peoples and communities through innovative and collaborative local initiatives. Many of these initiatives are focused on cultural safety.
“This art installation is part of a bigger agenda of cultural safety and acknowledgement of Indigenous Peoples in healthcare. The Aboriginal Health Improvement Committees are continuously addressing ways to bridge the gap between their communities and northern health facilities,” said Margo Greenwood, VP Indigenous Health, Northern Health, in a press release. “Acknowledgement and recognition of Indigenous peoples pave the way to better healthcare experiences and shapes our future as partners in healthcare.”
The PG AHIC first mentioned the need for a territory acknowledgement in the hospital in 2015. With guidance from Lheidli T’enneh chief and council, the AHIC pursued an art installation with a welcome in Carrier to recognize and acknowledge the traditional territory of Lheidli T’enneh, on which the hospital sits.
“This unveiling marks a huge step in relationship building that will ultimately enhance the healthcare experience of Indigenous peoples entering this facility, specifically the people of this territory and surrounding communities,” said Louella Nome, PG AHIC Chair and Health Director for Lheidli T’enneh, “This project is a gateway to beginning conversations about improving the healthcare experience and creating new partnerships.”
Artist Carla Joseph describes the painting as representing the community coming together welcoming everyone. Joseph also describes the painting as showing “…a connection between all things; how we need each other to be the best we can be.”
The overall intent of the welcome sign is recognition and acknowledgement of Indigenous peoples in health-care facilities, while also offering a learning experience to non-Indigenous peoples entering the hospital. This new addition is on display at UHNBC in the hospital lobby/atrium.