Yvette John drummed and sang a song to open a ceremony where she gave a weaving to the Fraser Canyon Hospital, on May 25, 2021. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)

Yvette John drummed and sang a song to open a ceremony where she gave a weaving to the Fraser Canyon Hospital, on May 25, 2021. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)

Indigenous artwork given to Hope’s health community

‘Where this hospital is, by the water, is where my ancestors have been’

Three pieces of Indigenous artwork have been gifted to the health community in Hope.

Two of those pieces are weavings by Yvette John that will hang on the walls of the Fraser Canyon Hospital and the Fraser Canyon Clinic on Wallace Street. She passed the pieces onto their new owners in two separate, intimate ceremonies on Tuesday afternoon.

The third piece is a welcome house post carving by Francis Horne Jr., was unveiled in a ceremony on May 28 at the Hope Medical Clinic.

John sang and drummed a welcome song at the hospital, in the Sacred Space room as part of the first ceremony. She told stories of her ancestors, and her deep connection to the land through those ancestors.

“Everywhere you are walking is where my ancestors have been,” she said. “Where this hospital is, by the water, is where my ancestors have been.”

She said the weaving will feed the spirits of the people who see it. It features diamonds, half diamonds and the sun, along with butterflies, and it will hang in the entrance of the hospital.

Catherine Wiebe, Director of Clinical Operations at Fraser Canyon Hospital, was present to thank John for her gift.

“I am hoping that for me and for my staff, it will be a daily reminder to do things in a good way, in a humble way, in a culturally appropriate and safe way,” Wiebe said. “That has been my goal as director here at the hospital, to encourage and remind our staff that we live on land that has been in the possession of our Indigenous community members for a long time. This will be a beautiful reminder for us as we come in the building.”

She said the patients will also “feel comfortable and at home and that their culture is acknowledged” within the walls of the hospital.

At the Fraser Canyon Clinic, John noted that the office provides a view of the Fraser River where she and her family lived, and where pit houses were removed by settlers to make way for the train system. Her own mother was unable to leave their land to shop in town, and had to wait for letters to be invited to come to town.

Elder Roger Andrews was present at both ceremonies and spoke of only being able to shop by catalogue, as Indigenous people were kept on a pass system and not allowed to leave reserves.

Dr. Aseem Grover explained that their office runs clinics throughout the week that serve various patients in the community, from prenatal care to those who are addicted. They have many different specialists on site at different times, and often their patients are Indigenous people.

John noted that the many harms settlers burdened First Nation people with, including isolation, have led to generational trauma that is still being felt today. She told the small gathering to think of today’s orders to isolate through a historical lens, and think about what her ancestors lived through.

Even weaving, she said, was not allowed.

Grover thanked John for the weaving, which will hang prominently on the wall of the clinic. It is a long, vertical piece featuring 16 flying geese and the sun.

The events were organized by Gracie Kelly and emceed by Dr. Josh Greggain.

READ MORE: Yale First Nation draw up plans for $10-million community house project


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Dr. Aseem Grover admires a weaving made by Yvette John (right) that will adorn the wall of the Fraser Canyon Clinic. The weaving was given as a gift in a ceremony on May 25, 2021. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)

Dr. Aseem Grover admires a weaving made by Yvette John (right) that will adorn the wall of the Fraser Canyon Clinic. The weaving was given as a gift in a ceremony on May 25, 2021. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)