Authentic Indigenous recognizes I-Hos Gallery for its dedication to community partnerships and celebration of Indigenous identity, culture, and art.
Open since 1995, I-Hos Gallery expresses Indigenous culture through art and actively shares space and traditional values with the community. The gallery, owned and operated by K’ómoks First Nation, is located on the site of the original K’ómoks Village between Courtenay and Comox on Vancouver Island. The front of the distinctive building features a carved whale, Queneesh, and a double-headed sea serpent, I-Hos. In addition to an expansive collection of traditional and contemporary Northwest Coast artwork from more than 50 Indigenous artists, the facilities include a gymnasium and commercial kitchen for additional gathering and sharing.
I-Hos offers cultural experiences at its Northwest Coast Big House, including storytelling, interactive workshops, and traditional Northwest Coast Dance performances. I-Hos Gallery represents the specific interests of the artists and ensures that all business interactions result in fair treatment for the artists. The gallery staff takes great care to collect information on each piece directly from the artists and shares these stories and the artists’ biographies with visitors. Offering this intimate knowledge creates meaningful connections for the buyer between the work, its creator, and his or her home community.
I-Hos Gallery is much more than an excellent resource for Indigenous gifts and artwork; the business raises overall community awareness of Indigenous teachings and values. I-Hos generously contributes to many local charities and events, including Comox Valley Child Development and the Vancouver Island Music Festival. The gallery helps to promote fundraisers, hosts a drop-off site for items for the women’s shelter, and maintains several displays of Indigenous art in the community. The gallery also participates in diverse cultural initiatives by contributing mentorship, expertise, guidance, and project-specific support to other cultural organizations in the Comox Valley.
I-Hos maintains a local and Indigenous-first policy and prioritizes members of K’ómoks First Nation and other Indigenous applicants when hiring. Likewise, the gallery focuses on selling products that are local to Vancouver Island or British Columbia and has established successful partnerships with local Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses to create mutually beneficial collaborations that celebrate Indigenous culture, identity, and art. In April 2019, I-Hos Gallery installed solar panels that will supply up to 75% of its energy needs and help to reduce the overall carbon footprint of K’ómoks First Nation to celebrate and sustain a deep connection to the land.
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