Estil. It’s a new word that has been stopping traffic on Thompson Rivers University’s Kamloops campus for the last few weeks.
Secwepemctsin for ‘stop’, the bilingual signs are the first significant public indicator that TRU is located in the heart of Secwepemc territory. In total 33 new traffic signs have been installed.
“The signs are a visual gesture of respect for Secwepemc language and culture and a gesture that Aboriginal people are welcome on campus,” said Joanne Brown, TRU Aboriginal Communications and Projects Coordinator.
Although the stops signs are highly visible and send a strong message that the campus is welcoming and supportive for people of aboriginal ancestry, Nathan Matthew, Executive Director Aboriginal Education says there are more initiatives in the works.
Hints of the Interior Salish Art and Design collection are evident in Matthew’s office, just off Student Street in Old Main. The space is crammed with soapstone carvings of bears and salmon and prints by well-known artists such as Opie Oppenheim.
A huge drum lashed to a polished tree branch will be moved from the boardroom table to take up a prominent place indoors. Soon the art will be decorating key areas in each campus building, including a significant display in the new House of Learning, which is scheduled to open this fall.
“TRU is doing an excellent job of paying respect to the Secwepemc people through its ceremonies and official programs,” Matthew said. “The intent of the public display of the Interior Salish Art and Design Collection is to recognize that the University’s main campus is situated on traditional Secwepemc territory.”