Prizes support urban aboriginal life

Community-based projects in Penticton, Victoria and Vancouver receive $15,000 each to continue work

Aboriginal Relations Minister John Rustad listens as Bruce Parisian of Victoria Native Friendship Centre explains program of art works commissioned from a local people Monday.

Projects in Penticton, Victoria and Vancouver to improve circumstances for B.C. aboriginal people who live off reserve have been awarded prizes of $15,000 each to continue their work.

B.C. Aboriginal Relations Minister John Rustad announced winners Monday of a province-wide competition for community-based projects that was launched in February. There were 21 entries, and winners are:

• Penticton Peach Festival aboriginal cultural village, presenting traditional food and ceremonies to increase community collaboration and reduce racism.

• Arts For Wealth, a program of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre that pays honorariums to aboriginal artists to produce original works for auction at cultural and charitable events.

• Vancouver Native Health Society’s aboriginal instant kitchen, a cooking program that passes on traditional food gathering and preparation along with nutrition theory, food label education and hands-on cooking, shopping and gardening skills.

Rustad noted that 74 per cent of B.C.’s aboriginal people live off reserves, and 60 per cent of those live in urban areas. The contest was created in conjunction with the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres.

“This competition was really about finding out the groovy things that are happening in the communities around British Columbia, and honouring that and recognizing that that’s where the solutions are,” said Paul Lacerte, the association’s executive director.