Fly like an ea­gle

The Daily Courier - - BUSINESS - by STEVE MacNAULL

When Cori Der­ick­son cloaks her­self in the feather-em­bel­lished cape and starts to do the ea­gle dance, she feels closer to the cre­ator and to her late son.

“Af­ter I lost my son in a rodeo bull­rid­ing ac­ci­dent in 2010, I started to see an ea­gle ev­ery day,” said Der­ick­son. “It was a sign. So, I started do­ing the ea­gle dance, the high­est in Na­tive cul­ture, to heal and be closer to my son and the cre­ator.”

Der­ick­son’s son, Mak­wala, died at the age of 18 when he was tram­pled by a bull while com­pet­ing at the Ca­noe Moun­tain Rodeo in Vale­mont.

Her son was named Mak­wala af­ter her ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther, a tra­di­tional chief of the Sy­ilx (Okana­gan) Na­tion.

The ea­gle dance is usu­ally only per­formed by men, but Der­ick­son, a mem­ber of West­bank First Na­tion, started to do the dance reg­u­larly at spe­cial events for not just her own rea­sons, but to spot­light Abo­rig­i­nal art and cul­ture.

“You re­ally do em­body the ea­gle when you dance,” Der­ick­son said. “You flap your arms to repli­cate the power and flap­ping wings of the ea­gle. I re­mem­ber the first time I saw an el­der per­form the dance when I was a lit­tle girl of about five and I re­ally thought he was go­ing to turn into an ea­gle and take to the sky.”

Der­ick­son has been a painter, sto­ry­teller, dancer and singer all her life. How­ever, for the ma­jor­ity of her adult life, she was a stay-at-home mom.

“I de­cided to for­mal­ize be­ing an artist in 2010 and I took fine arts at UBC Okana­gan,” she said.

She grad­u­ated in 2015 with a bach­e­lor of fine arts and has con­tin­ued to work on a mas­ter of fine arts at the univer­sity, ma­jor­ing in per­for­mance art and mi­nor­ing in sculp­ture, paint­ing and print mak­ing with a fo­cus on In­dige­nous arts.

Next month, along with her re­search col­lab­o­ra­tor, pro­fes­sor Vir­ginie Mag­nant,

Der­ick­son will travel to the Univer­sity of Toronto and the Univer­sity of Chicago to per­form both in­di­vid­ual and dual Abo­rig­i­nal songs and dances.

Der­ick­son plans to do the ea­gle dance solo for au­di­ences at both uni­ver­si­ties.

Der­ick­son also works as the cu­ra­tor and man­ager of the Robert Bate­man Chief­tain Gallery at Sum­mer­hill Pyra­mid Win­ery.

The gallery dis­plays and sells Bate­man’s wildlife art as well as a range of Abo­rig­i­nal art by artists across Canada, with a fo­cus on works by Sy­ilx peo­ples.

“I’m a long-time friend of the Cipes fam­ily (which owns Sum­mer­hill Pyra­mid Win­ery), so they asked me to work at the gallery,” said Der­ick­son. “The Sum­mer­hill prop­erty is on tra­di­tional land used as a north-south path­way by the Sy­ilx peo­ple. There used to be Sy­ilx win­ter homes on the prop­erty and the Cipes have com­mem­o­rated that by build­ing a kekuli (Abo­rig­i­nal earth lodge) be­side the vine­yard.”

The gallery is a hit with lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike who are af­ter a piece of dis­tinc­tive Na­tive art.

“Sum­mer­hill is the most-vis­ited win­ery in Canada and some­times we’ll see 10,000 peo­ple a week through here,” she said. “Par­tic­u­larly the Asian tourists, who come by the bus­load, want to buy Cana­dian Abo­rig­i­nal art.

“Sum­mer­hill al­ready has an amaz­ing pro­gram to ship wine around the world, so we do the same with art. Peo­ple can also shop and buy on­line.”

Sum­mer­hill show­cased the gallery last month by host­ing a Kelowna Cham­ber of Com­merce Con­neX net­work­ing and so­cial mixer. Der­ick­son sang a tra­di­tional Na­tive song at the event as a wel­come.

The gallery stocks a range of art from $5 greet­ing cards, $9 pack­ages of Lit­tle Miss Chief smoked sal­mon and $20 Na­tive-mo­tif scarves to $125 lim­ited edi­tion prints, orig­i­nal art in the hun­dreds and thou­sands and a $100,000 sculp­ture.

Der­ick­son also teaches Na­tive sto­ry­telling and dance at the Ro­tary Cen­tre for the Arts.

GARY NYLANDER/The Daily Courier

Abo­rig­i­nal artist Cori Der­ick­son, cu­ra­tor and man­ager of the Robert Bate­man Chief­tain Gallery at Sum­mer­hill Pyra­mid Win­ery, is the 31st nom­i­nee for Kelowna Top Forty Over 40.

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