The Foundry acknowledges that we are located on the unceded territory of the Stō:ló, Matsqui First Nation.
Elder Gwen Point performed a brushing ceremony on a Coast Salish Whirl carved by respected artist, Ray Silver at Foundry Abbotsford on Tuesday, October 22nd. The artwork was installed in honour of the Sumas and Matsqui First Nations of the Stō:ló people.
“This carving is a beautiful symbol of collaboration, relationships, and supportive community that is the core of Foundry and Archway Community Services,” shared Emily Jane Henry, a member of the Ochapowace Cree Nation and board member at Archway Community Services, who emceed the event.
Foundry is a youth and health wellness centre that houses 14 different services under one roof to provide integrated care. Foundry provided services to over 1,600 youth in its first year of operation of which 10% were Indigenous youth.
Artist Ray Silver, a member of the Sumas First Nation, shared how he let the red wood cedar ‘speak to him’ allowing it to guide the design. Included in the carving is a thunderbird, recognized as one of the strongest beings on the West Coast and an eagle as a symbol of peace.
The cedar brushing ceremony was held to awaken the artwork. The west coast nations recognize cedar as sacred medicine and branches are used as ‘helpers’ for their purifying and healing qualities.
During her speech, Elder Point shared, “everybody has a gift, everybody has a purpose, but it has no meaning unless we share and we can look after each other. I’m just so grateful to see what you’re doing here at the Foundry. Your work makes me feel good as a grandparent and great-grandparent; I now know that our children have some place to go to.”
Elder Point, a member of the Skowkale First Nation, is the University of the Fraser Valley Chancellor and has previously worked in all levels of education. She has been recognized with several awards including being named an Honorary Witness by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2012. The ceremony was witnessed by Chief James Hobart of the Spuzzum First Nation, Elder Leo Nolin, a Métis Elder of St. Boniface in Manitoba and Rod Santiago, executive director of Archway. Witness shared their reflections on the ceremony and will share their experience with their communities.
Chief Alice Mckay and council member Brenda Morgan of the Matsqui Nation were in attendance along with Eric Van Egmond, the Director of Operations for the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
The ceremony and artwork will assist the Foundry Abbotsford in our goals of inspiring and creating culturally appropriate care for all Indigenous youth. As directed by Elder Point, the Foundry will appoint two people to regularly replace the cedar placed around the artwork, as a way to help continue to hold the positive space created by the cedar brushing ceremony.
Additionally, to help Indigenous youth feel comfortable and to ensure Foundry is bringing light to Stō:ló culture, the Foundry will regularly host Indigenous activities. The Foundry Central Office is also piloting a Virtual Clinic so youth who face transportation barriers can still access support.
As visitors on the this unceded territory, the Foundry wishes to thank the the Stō:ló, Matsqui First Nation community for their hospitality. We would also like to extend our gratitude for every one who attended and witnessed this important gathering.
Foundry is a collaboration of 14 partners with Archway Community Services as the lead agency. Foundry envisions all young people in British Columbia having the resources they need to thrive. They are a “one stop shop” for accessing everything from mental health issues and problematic substance use to relationships, community and medical supports. By combining these services for youth ages 12 to 24 in one location, it is the intention of Foundry that more BC youth will be able to easily access the help they need to live healthy lives and achieve personal success.