TELUS Fleet designs bring local Indigenous artists' stories to life
(Above) Michaela Gilbert, T’exelc (Williams Lake First Nation) and Barbara Derrick, Tŝilhqot'in from Xeni Gwet’in with their original artwork
Residents and visitors in the Cariboo Chilcotin area of B.C. can spot refreshed TELUS vehicles in the community, newly adorned with powerful artwork by local Indigenous artists Barbara Derrick, Tŝilhqot'in from Xeni Gwet’in and Michaela Gilbert, T’exelc (Williams Lake First Nation). We invite you to read on to learn more about Barbara and Michaela and the inspirations behind their stunning designs.
This marks the first time a TELUS van has featured artists from two Nations, and is a continuation of our program to refresh vehicle branding, launched last year. This initiative is one of the ways we’re amplifying Indigenous artists’ voices and talent, as part of our efforts to progress the path of Reconciliation.
Our commitments to Reconciliation are guided by the Indigenous Advisory Council and formalized in our Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan (IRAP), based on four pillars we believe can drive meaningful change. Learn more about our Reconciliation commitments, the advisors and our guiding pillars here.
Walking in Power
By Barbara Derrick, Tŝilhqot'in from Xeni Gwet’in
I am a Tŝilhqot'in Indigenous artist from Xeni Gwet’in, located 187 kms outside Williams Lake, B.C. I was born and raised in Quesnel, B.C. My earliest memories of being exposed to colour were influenced by my mother – getting into her purse and applying her red lipstick. I also fondly recall asking her, when I was four years old, “What is your favorite colour?” When she responded, “Blue,” little did I know it would become the colour I would embed into the stories of my life. Later, these stories started to take on less blue and more bright colours – like coming out of the phthalo blue darkness into the light!
The pristine land, waters and people provided the inspiration for Walking in Power. It’s about being courageous and brave, teaching a future generation “How to fish” and “When to give back.” I chose the bear because it’s the one that’s given me a voice through my dreams and life; an icon reminding me to stand tall, stay strong, share my voice – to walk in my power and help others walk in power. The bear represents the reclamation of this voice, and the waters are a conduit between communities and TELUS. If we act together, our voices can reach many places at the speed of light.
Qwléwem (to pick berries)
By Michaela Gilbert, T’exelc (Williams Lake First Nation)
I’m an Indigenous artist from T’exelc (Williams Lake First Nation). Growing up with a mother who is an artist, creativity has always been a part of my life. My current work is inspired by contemporary Indigenous identities and the preservation of traditional stories.
My piece Qwléwem (to pick berries) is about reconnecting with culture and traditions through storytelling. In this work, you can see the ravens working together to gather Saskatoon berries, collecting them in a birch bark basket. Each element has personal and shared significance within my community: the raven, the Saskatoon berry and the birch bark basket. The personification of animal characters is a key component of Secwépemc storytelling. The Saskatoon berry is a staple food in the area, and the birch basket is a common traditional craft.
TELUS' commitment to artistic integrity
We are committed to supporting the artistic practices of Indigenous Peoples, while being mindful of the historic role organizations have played in the misappropriation of Indigenous art and culture. We have an obligation and responsibility to ensure that TELUS’ use of Indigenous art in our digital and physical spaces is respectful of Indigenous artists. TELUS works with each artist to ensure that they retain full intellectual property and control over their work.
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