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Meet West Kelowna's Face of Music and Art: Jenny Money

It’s all about celebration. Celebration of Indigenous traditional and contemporary music, dance, art and culture. Celebration of Indigenous resilience and resurgence. A celebration that invites all people to experience the beauty of Indigenous culture. “The Okanagan Indigenous Music & Art Society creates space for all to join in on the celebration,” says society president Jenny Money. “We’re also creating a community and space to learn and grow and collaborate.”

The society’s inaugural music and arts festival in 2019 at Gellatly Fields attracted a crowd of 1,500 Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to admire traditional and contemporary art, watch traditional dancers, hear contemporary musical acts, eat traditional foods, learn about traditional plant and medicine harvesting and take part in workshops ranging from professional development for musicians to traditional practices such as drum-stretching and
stick games. “Our inaugural festival received overwhelming support from non-Indigenous corporate sponsorship highlighting community desire to learn about and experience local Indigenous arts and culture in this time of reconciliation.”

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia Group</who>

And then, COVID came along and the society lost 100% of their corporate sponsorship and had to pivot along with everyone else. “We remained committed to elevating Indigenous artistry and knowledge-sharing but had to revamp our program delivery,” says Jenny. “We increased our focus on cultural programming and continued to uplift Indigenous artists by providing capacity building such as studio recording, virtual showcase delivery and running small capacity outdoor events, we have even launched a mural project.”

The Society organized an Earth Day Community Clean Up, and is planning an Indigenous Peoples Day celebration focusing on n’ha-a-itkw (Spirit of the Lake) and will be taking part in Kelowna’s Fringe Festival. The society’s board of directors is composed of all Indigenous women, a majority of which are of local Syilx descent. ”We invite all community members to join us in celebrating,” says Jenny. “The society started with the prerogative to be inclusive and to create safe spaces for learning as we understand the Indigenous context of disenfranchisement and displacement.”

Jenny grew up without access to her culture and has launched the Okanagan Indigenous Music and Arts Society to fulfill a yearning to return to it. While the focus remains on uplifting Indigenous arts and culture, the society remains committed to community building and has established many partnerships with non-Indigenous organizations including Kelowna’s Gospel Mission, Kelowna’s Fringe Festival, Rotary Centre for the Arts and various corporate sponsors.

Jenny is a self-described stay-at-home mom, who is anything but; occupying seats on Westbank First Nations Public Arts Committee, Economic Development Commission, the Board of Directors for the Greater Westside Board of Trade and serving as a facilitator for UBCO Faculty of Medicine while concurrently pursuing a Masters in Public Health focusing on Indigenous Health.

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