KL Kivi and Taress Alexis, collaborators in the Not Extinct: Keeping the Sinixt Way audio-visual exhibit at Gallery 2, pose with “Chipmunk and Owl Woman,” a sketch done by Alexis’s friend Tannis Wood for the project. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

Sounds of new exhibits echo through Grand Forks art gallery

The gallery hosts shows on the Sinixt, our collective anxiety and what makes a ‘real’ experience

Staring up from the foyer of the old court house in Grand Forks, now Gallery 2, it’s tough to see the new exhibitions on display – but you’ll certainly hear all three.

From the left, smooth voices speak traditional stories of the Sinixt people, only to be interrupted by the crack of electrical switches and high-pitched organ notes when the visitor’s attention turns to “Sanguine Through the Storm” in the utility pail-filled main gallery. From the right-hand gallery, with a tuned ear, you can hear the silence, a crack of a pistol and screams. Get close and slap on the in-exhibit headphones and you’ll hear your disembodied movie theatre seat neighbours crunching on popcorn while you try and make sense of the film unfolding before your eyes and the soundscape around your head in “The Muriel Lake Incident.”

Experiencing Sinixt stories

In large, grey letters, the opening line of one of the new exhibits at Gallery 2 holds no suspense about its point for being.

“The truth is that we, the Sinixt, exist. And that here, there is no reconciliation possible without recognition of the Sinixt.”

In 1956, the Sinixt people, who have traditionally lived in the Arrow Lakes and West Kootenay regions of B.C. and down south into what is now Washington State, were declared legally extinct by the Canadian government. Now, in the latest wave of decades of effort to reverse the decision, a collaboration between Sinixt people and settlers is aiming to bring the cause to the top of minds again.

“Not Extinct: Keeping the Sinixt Way” is a book, art gallery installation, collection of recordings and curriculum materials created by Sinixt elder Marilyn James, Sinixt storyteller Taress Alexis and the Blood of Life Collective, a group of settler and Sinixt activists working to support Sinixt resurgence.

Despite early pessimism about the project, which features James and Alexis recounting traditional Sinixt stories and accompanying artworks created by collaborators, Alexis said that she’s been impressed with its pickup.

“I’m happy with just letting it evolve and take on a life of its own,” Alexis said. “That’s what the stories are – they have their own life and they just keep going and evolving as well.”

At Gallery 2, the project takes the form of a handful of paintings, sketches and stencils that illustrate how the project’s artists, many of whom are settlers, interpreted the stories told by James and Alexis.

“There was no discussion or limitations to what the artist thought,” explained project collaborator KL Kivi. “This just tells the story through settler perspectives.”

“I don’t think that any single one of them would have been what I imagined,” Alexis said of the art pieces.

“We share the land – we all live here now and we all share this space – so to have the responsibility to tell the stories to the land you live on and to the water that you utilize, they all got a deeper understanding after being involved in the project,” Alexis said of the artists’ participation.

“It’s given [the cause of ending the Sinixt legal extinction] a lot of life and legitimacy and attention that it deserves – it deserved it before any of this happened, but to be able to create that ambiance where people are actually paying attention is great,” said Kivi.

There is no irony lost in understanding that the sounds of “Not Extinct” echo through an old court house – a brick-and-mortar representation of the colonial power that condemned the nation’s rights above the 49th parallel.

Audio downloads and curriculum materials for teachers are available at Maapress.ca, with the purchase of the book, Not Extinct: Keeping the Sinixt Way.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


The art exhibit for “Not Extinct: Keeping the Sinixt Way” features illustrations and installations from the book of the same name, accompanied by voices reading traditional Sinixt stories. A petition to reverse the legal extinction of the Sinixt greets viewers to the gallery. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

Robyn Moody’s “Sanguine Through the Storm” is a cacophony of lights and sounds, inspired by a clever solution he once saw in a pub washroom to catch water drops from the ceiling. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

Just Posted

Two adults and a child escape early morning fire in Cascade

Three pets did not make it out of the structure

Midway mill shutdown expected to last 8 to 10 weeks

Vaagen Fibre Canada cites low inventory, road restrictions as reason for shut down

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

Timberwolves seek fresh lacrosse recruits

New season of the ‘fastest game on two feet’ begins this spring

Province seeks input on trails through citizen survey

Trail users and groups can send their feedback in until Feb. 28

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Registration opens soon for BC 55+ Games in Richmond

2020 55+ Games have been officially scheduled for Sept. 15 to 19

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Most Read