Comox Valley Art Gallery
The Comox Valley Art Gallery is a public art gallery featuring contemporary, experimental and applied art located in downtown Courtenay, British Columbia.
The following text is from a conversation between Rob Everson, Hereditary Chief of the Gigalga̱m Wala̱s Kwaguł, Lee Everson, Guest Curator & Erin Haluschak, of the Comox Valley Record, regarding Potlatch 67–67: Then and Now
Overall, what was your expectation with the show, and do you think those expectations were met with the community?
Our primary goal for the exhibit was to inform, educate, and promote ‘kitchen table dialogue’ for both Indigenous and non-indigenous people on the shameful quiet history of Canada with regards to the treatment of our indigenous population. We believe that we have fostered great talking points for that dialogue to continue and moved a good number of our community out of a state of ignorance.
Have you received feedback from the public? Was there anything that you perhaps were not excepting?
The overwhelming feedback from our community has been positive and has sparked constructive conversation around indigenous issues we are faced with today. Many people had no understanding of the extreme measures the government and church went to in order to supplant indigenous rights and title.
We continued to be surprised at the lengths a few exhibit attendees would go to defend the poor treatment of indigenous people by government and church.
Can you talk a bit about the artists’ experience to the show – particularly opening night with the community?
All the artists who attended the opening day of the exhibit were surprised and taken back a little with our local community support and the general positive feedback given. Once again the Comox Valley has shown the greater community how positive steps towards reconciliation are demonstrated though heart-searching, soulful dialogue focusing on constructive solutions.
How important was it to have the show at the art gallery, and to have it on display for a bit over three months?
Having the exhibit showing for three months has allowed people the time to stop by and explore the exhibit at their leisure. Many of our attendees returned multiple times often returning with family or friends to further explore their feelings and emotions that have come to the surface. Extending the exhibit into the 2018/2019 school year also allowed students from School District No. 71 and 72 to have tours through the exhibit; 1600 students experienced Potlatch 67-67 by the time the exhibit closed on October 4th.
What do you hope people take away from the exhibit now that it has completed its public display?
We hope that guests of the exhibit will take away a deeper understanding of our shared Canadian history. Without education, dialogue, and allies, that history will continue to go untold and undiscussed by the majority of Canadians. We hope that the exhibit will encourage an entire generation to educate themselves, their friends, and their families so that history is never repeated.
I know we talked about this briefly with the e-book, but what it the next step for the exhibit?
The Gallery staff created an e-publication that is available through the Potlatch6767 website. This will be another powerful learning tool continuing the conversation and again providing the opportunity for our Canadian citizens access to the exhibition. Many of our artists and attendees have voiced the need for this exhibit or concept to travel to other communities, which we are currently looking into.
Anything else you’d like to add?
The Kumugwe Cultural Society would like to thank our funders, the artists who trusted in our vision, community businesses and organizations and our wonderful volunteers. With your dedication and support Potlatch 67-67: The Potlatch Ban – Then and Now has ben realized . A very special thank you to the Comox Valley Art Gallery staff and board members for believing in our dream and joining us as a community partner. We are forever grateful! Gilakas’la!