One Wave Gathering lead artist Hjalmer Wenstob, standing left, mentors youth and community members in painting longhouses at the Bayview Roundhouse building. Kirk Schwartz photo

One Wave Gathering returns to Victoria for its 10th year

Indigenous arts celebration moves to BC Legislature in spirit of reconciliation

On its 10th anniversary, Victoria’s One Wave Gathering is moving to the front lawn of the B.C. Legislature in the spirit of unity.

The annual Indigenous arts celebration has shifted gears this year in light of Canada 150, in a tribute to the work around reconciliation. Visitors are invited to gather Saturday (Sept. 16) to explore interactive displays, educational activities and cultural sharing with Indigenous elders, artists and community members.

“It’s not there to entertain anyone,” explains April Ingham, executive director of Pacific Peoples’ Partnership. “It’s there to bring people together to experience the rich cultures of hundreds of different people who have contributed to this event.”

Four longhouses will be raised on the legislature’s lawn, a historic Lekwungen village site, representing Coast Salish, Kawkwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth and South Pacific nations.

Pacific Peoples’ Partnership connects Indigenous people of the Pacific, some 27,000 of them who are dispersed throughout Canada. Earlier this year they put out a call for youth to submit artwork to adorn the longhouses and the selected artists were mentored by artists and elders who helped paint the structures.

“When I talk to some of the youth, for them this is cultural resurgence,” Ingham says. “For the elders, it’s bringing back what was lost and creating unity amongst nations.”

In terms of reconciliation, she adds, this grassroots project initiated by the Indigenous community is a symbol of an outstretched hand. Culturally speaking, it’s a gathering and open to anyone who wants to learn and partake in a peaceful way with a good open heart, she says.

“As our mayor says, this is the year of reconciliation and I believe this is a good way to take a step forward into that space.”

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com