This figure, carved by inmates at Mission Institution, stands next to the door of the women’s house at Seabird Island’s A:yelexw Centre for Hope and Healing. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

VIDEO: Seabird Island unveils welcome figures for recovery homes

The man and woman were carved by inmates at Mission Institution for the First Nation

Two cedar figures now welcome residents into Seabird Island’s A:yelexw Centre for Hope and Healing.

On Tuesday, April 30, Seabird Island unveiled its new carvings for the two recovery homes in the First Nation. The recovery homes have been operating on Seabird Island for two years, offering a place where Indigenous adults can go to deal with addiction.

“There’s lot of really different people out there to make this happen, and they know why we do these things is to help take care of the spirit of our people and help take care of things so they can get back grounded,” Seabird Island chief Clem Seymour said at the ceremony. “To help … them understand that they don’t walk alone.”

Seymour was a key partner in bringing the carved figures to the A:yelexw Centre, although he said he was “just the hands, and the feet, and the mouth that helped us get to where we’re at today.”

The carving project was a partnership between Seabird Island, Mission Institution and BC Timber Sales, which saw inmates at the correctional facility turn a donated cedar log into carvings of a man and woman, now standing in front of the male and female recovery homes.

For Matt Welick, who donated the wood from his property in the Tzeachten First Nation, the unveiling at the homes was a special moment.

“I was asked by BC Timber Sales and Clem for a cedar log, and I had no idea what it was for,” Welick said. “One that came to mind which seemed to meet the requirements they were looking for was a lonely piece of sitting that was sitting on my family’s property on Tzeachten.”

“The fact that it become welcome figures for these two beautiful homes is also a bit of a connection, because my dad went through a home like this,” he continued. “The fact it ended up here without me knowing exactly where it was going or how it ended up here is a bit of a special story for me.”

RELATED: Addressing trauma: Seabird Island’s recovery homes offer holistic approach to healing

Warden Shawn Huish also said the unveiling was an important one for Mountain Institution.

“Our job in corrections is public safety, and we do that by actively encouraging and assisting offenders to become law-abiding citizens,” Huish said. “And that’s what this partnership with Seabird Island does.

“This gives our guys a sense of belonging and a sense to give back.”

Correctional facilities in the area have collaborated with Seabird Island in the past on other carvings — Huish worked on a project with Seabird Island while he was a Mountain Institution years ago, and came to the unveiling then as well.

“If you can give us the wood, we can do great things with it,” Huish said. “Clem, my hands up to you and to the community for allowing this work to take place.”

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This figure, carved by inmates at Mission Institution, stands next to the door of the men’s house at Seabird Island’s A:yelexw Centre for Hope and Healing. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Students at Seabird Island Community School sing during the ceremonial pole raising at Seabird Island’s A:yelexw Centre for Hope and Healing. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

The A:yelewx Centre for Hope and Healing on Seabird Island. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

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