The Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre received a $15,000 grant from BC’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture at the end of May.
The grant was apart of the ministry’s community resilience grants program which funds arts and culture programs that promote healing, resilience and connection.
“People not only come together through culture, they also heal and connect,” acting Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lana Popham said in a press release.
“I am especially proud that this pilot program is helping people living in areas impacted by last year’s wildfires, and is celebrating and supporting Indigenous cultural resiliency. Our government is committed to helping all British Columbians to have better futures, and funding projects like these are one important way we are supporting recovery and growth in these communities.”
The Friendship Centre received funding for a solidarity paddle. The initiative will bring several nations together on a canoe journey of cultural immersion and mentorship. Youth from each nation will learn about cultural tools such as bentwood boxes and how to make paddles
“Indigenous art is functional, it’s like a tool,” alcohol and drug facilitator at the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre, Mel Bazil, said. “We’re looking to use those tools to transform pain into strength.”
The $535,000 program awarded 61 grants throughout the province. Eleven communities in the Bulkley Valley-Stikine area received funding.
Misty Rivers Community Arts Council and Upper Skenna Development Centre Society in Hazelton each received grants of $9,000. Misty Rivers got a grant to conduct song writing workshops with Canadian Indigenous songwriters and youth. A concert will follow the workshops.
Upper Skenna Development Centre received a grant to host a community celebration showcasing Gitxsan culture.
Witset First Nation received $12,500 in funding for a program where youth and elders harvest plants to use in programs and demonstrations at museums.
“This is building bonds, building relationships, sharing knowledge which are all integral to creating strength in rural communities,” Minister of Forests, Lands Natural Resources and Rural Development and MLA for Stikine Doug Donaldson said.
“Often times that aspect of the impact of arts and culture in small communities isn’t widely known and sometimes ignored by government. We know how important it is and it’s part of our reinvestment in rural communities.”