Respecting community elders is something that never grows old.
With that in mind, Smithers Secondary School recently hosted dignitaries at the Della Herman Theatre for their Honouring Our Elders ceremony.
Two students artists, under the wing of the project coordinator Perry Rath, painted portraits of three selected elders.
Tilly Williams (above), from the Small Frog Clan who lives in Fort Babine, was chosen for one of the portraits. The other was a Smithers couple, Dave and Rosa Havard (left).
The audience gasped and applauded in approval as the portraits were unveiled, with the artist and subject on stage.
Lucas James is the artist behind the Havards’ portrait, and Haley Norton put her own artistic flair to Tilly’s painting.
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The school is currently on the third cycle of their elders’ project, a new batch of portraits unveiled every two or three years. The program pays tribute to an elder, each from the area Aboriginal communities and from the non-Aboriginal community.
The project came about as an idea to bridge generations and cultures.
The portraits will join the others already on display at the entrance to the school’s Round Room, the most used entrance to the school, and project coordinators say that it will act as a long-term visual reminder of the people who have contributed to the lives of others.
At the same time the larger-than-life portraits were unveiled, so to were new carved panels by James Madam, which will be a part of the base of the school’s Welcome Totem. A button blanket by Millie Gunanoot was also presented for the school’s entrance.
The elder’s project also was recognized the same afternoon as the presentations by the Retired Teacher’s Association with a Golden Star award. That award means that they received $1,000 towards biographical plaques for each of the elders’ portraits on display.