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Indigenous-design crosswalk pitched by Williams Lake elementary school PAC

The crosswalk is located at Third Avenue and Cameron Street
The design for the proposed crosswalk at Marie Sharpe Elementary School was created by First Nations artist Michaela Gilbert. (Photo submitted)

Williams Lake could see its first crosswalk featuring Indigenous design thanks to the efforts of an elementary school parent advisory committee (PAC).

At the regular city council meeting Tuesday, June 21, the Marie Sharpe Elementary School PAC will make a presentation about the project.

The PAC has committed to pay for the crosswalk being painted at Third Avenue and Cameron Street featuring a design created by local Secwépemc artist Michaela Gilbert, a member of Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN).

Gilbert is a visual arts student at the University of Victoria and said the design she created for the orange crosswalk is a collection of strong symbolic animals.

The bear is the protector that symbolizes strength and courage. The salmon is the life source, which symbolizes perseverance and prosperity. The coyote is the trickster, who brings teachings through mishaps and the turtle who represents wisdom and turtle island itself.

“Together they help represent core values in our community,” she said.

Austin Tate, member of the PAC, said the project will cost about $5,000 it total and they have raised about $2,500.

“We’ve talked to Yellowhead Pavement Marking Inc. about them possibly doing the work for us.”

As for the idea, Tate said he was inspired when he saw an article about a feather designed crosswalk in Kamloops and it made him wonder if something similar could be done in Williams Lake.

Tate joined the PAC this year when his daughter started kindergarten at the school and organizes the monthly lunch the PAC provides at the school.

Already letters of support for the project have been submitted by WLFN and Marie Sharpe Elementary School.

WLFN Chief Willie Sellars noted in a letter that within the school’s population of nearly 200 children, around 130 students identify as Indigenous.

“The installation of an Indigenous-theme crosswalk will create a safe space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, create opportunities for additional reconciliation dialogue with non-Indigenous students and their parents, and celebrate the rich Indigenous culture and art created in Secwepemculecw since time immemorial,” Sellars stated.

Kristina Beaulne, the school principal, noted the addition will help support the continued work of truth and reconciliation the school is committed to.

“It will give the students and the community a sense of belonging,” she wrote in her letter of support.

READ MORE: Williams Lake rainbow crosswalk receives blessing at official opening

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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