Investment in Ladysmith Advances Itst uw’hw-nuts’ ul-wum Vision

The new Artist Studio will be located in Ladysmith’s Waterfront Area.

New space to showcase Stz’uminus and Ladysmith artists’ shared vision for the future

COURTENAY, 04 April, 2023 – The Town of Ladysmith is investing in the construction of a new Artist Studio, which will support the artistic and cultural works of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, with funding support from Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Capital and Innovation Program.

The new studio is the first phase – and an integral component — of the vision for a Ladysmith Arts and Heritage Hub. This Hub has been identified as a key piece in the implementation of the Town’s larger $25 million Waterfront Area Plan. The Artist Studio design involved deep collaboration with Stz’uminus Elders and guidance from an Arts and Heritage Hub Steering Committee. The collective vision has been named One Heart + One Mind: Itst uw’hw-nuts’ ul-wum (we are working as one).

“This project is very important to me, as an individual, and as a member of the community in helping to build better awareness of who we are as Stz’uminus people,” says Elder George Harris Senior. “People can do arts and crafts and have these works interpreted to them. These activities will help explain more about our histories to non-Indigenous people and build a stronger sense of pride in our people. I am grateful for the involvement of other elders and to the Town of Ladysmith for initiating this project. 

“The Artist Studio directly supports Ladysmith’s vibrant arts, culture, and tourism sectors and will be a significant addition to the Town’s cultural inventory,” says Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone. “It is our hope that this new studio articulates the hopes and aspirations for the future of the waterfront in a respectful manner and plays a key role in uplifting Stz’uminus culture and presence in our community.”

The Artist Studio will be the public’s first look at what is possible when First Nations and non-First Nations people come together. The building will be approximately 4500 square feet, made up of a nearly 3000 square foot interior and just over 1500 square foot exterior working space, to house local artists including Stz’uminus First Nation carvers and other artists. There will be a large, shared community, multi-use and event space, along with several smaller studios designed to encourage visitor viewing opportunities and engagement with working artists.

“It’s exciting to anticipate the types of economic and social impacts this project will bring to the community,” says Chris Barfoot, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Culture. “Economically, it will help attract more visitors and help enhance our community’s profile as a desirable destination. Socially, it is an incredible way to showcase Indigenous and non-Indigenous collaboration and is a strong, physical symbol of respect and reconciliation.”

Coast Salish traditional design elements will be featured in the architectural design of the building, and the arts and crafts produced within will be developed through the inclusion of John Marston, a Professional Coast Salish Artist and Elder representing the Stz’uminus First Nation.

“The visual arts are important tools to promote health and well-being, as well as demonstrate inclusivity and diversity,” says John Jack, Vice-Chair, Island Coastal Economic Trust. “This is a real opportunity to share Indigenous cultural expression, including historical information and storytelling, and we feel truly honoured to help support this project.”

“Reconciliation comes in many forms, and initiatives like this between First Nations and local governments are a great example of how we can support it on a local level,” said Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, “Indigenous artists deserve a place to practice and share their craft and participate in the local culture, economy, and industry. This investment and support from the Trust will be key in bringing this vision to life, and I’m grateful to Coast Salish artist and elder John Marston for his ongoing commitment to reconciliation in arts and culture throughout his life and on this initiative.”

The Artist Studio project is supported through the Capital and Innovation Program. The Trust will contribute $299,200 to a total project budget of $4.1M. The project will be underway imminently.


About Island Coastal Economic Trust

Founded by the Province of British Columbia in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust works to build a sustainable and resilient coastal economy in reciprocal relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and islands and inlets from the Salish Sea to Cape Caution. Serving over half a million residents, we partner with communities in the development and financing of their economic infrastructure and diversification efforts through our unique structure that is led by, and accountable to, communities.

Since our inception, Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved more than $59 million to economic development initiatives that have attracted over $322 million in new investment to our region. These investments have created over 2,750 permanent jobs, and countless positive impacts, across the coast.

Island Coastal Economic Trust acknowledges that we work for communities across the ancestral and unceded territories of the Kwak̓wala, Nuučaan̓uɫ, Éy7á7juuthem, Ligwilda’xw, Pəntl’áč, She shashishalhem, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Hul’q’umi’num’, diitiidʔaatx̣, SENĆOŦEN, Lekwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.

Media Contacts

Brodie Guy
Island Coastal Economic Trust

Chris Barfoot
Parks, Recreation and Culture