Artist proposes ‘gateway’

David Seven Deers attended the Sept. 9 school board meeting to talk about the talking circle project to be built in Midway next spring.

A conception drawing by artists David Seven Deers of the Gateway project to be built in Entwined Trees Park in Midway. The talking circle is intended to link students across the Boundary.

At the School District 51 board meeting on Sept. 9 in Grand Forks, the board heard a presentation from aboriginal artist David Seven Deers.

Seven Deers, in conjunction with the school district, is looking at building a “Gateway” in Midway to link students from throughout the Boundary.

Doug Lacey, SD51 director of learning, introduced Seven Deers to the board.

“I asked him to speak in high terms about this vision he has about connectedness and his gift that he is going to give to our Boundary community—if we so want it—of a permanent talking circle with a raven that is Aboriginal in its theme and its teaching and the learning style.”

Lacey said he has been working with Seven Deers to get the project to become a reality in Midway. The location they are looking at is the entwined tree park, which is halfway between Boundary Central Secondary School and Midway Elementary.

“We want to make this a reality for our community and for our youth—aboriginal and non-aboriginal youth alike,” he said. “It fits in well with connectedness, it fits in well with our aboriginal enhancement agreement and the goals we have within it.”

Lacey said when he and Seven Deers first looked at the project, they wanted to bring together the different parts of the Boundary.

“When we first started to look at it, it was about doing something to bind the two parts of the district,” said Lacey. “He came to me with the idea of the permanent talking circle and his talents as an artist. Our first conversations were how do we bind Christina Lake to Big White.” Lacey said the Entwined Tree park was a perfect location with its centrality and it’s historical roots with the Colville Nation. “It just seemed to fit,” he said.

Lacey said they want to make sure the kids help with the process along the way.

“We’ll be meeting with our aboriginal advisory council on how we can help our students be a part of it,” he said.

From grant-writing to learning about the talking circle and its significance to First Nations culture and spirituality to getting the construction students from Boundary Central Secondary involved, “we want the students to have ownership of this,” said Lacey. “We want the kids to come together so they have an important place in the community.”

The project is expected to begin in spring at the Entwined Tree park. The site will feature a raven structure as well as log seats and other features.