Three posters were chosen in an art contest held in April 2020 for Indigenous youth in B.C., encouraging them to express their feelings about COVID-19. This image contains an error, as Myka Friesen is 17 years old. (Submitted images)

VIDEO: Chilliwack youth earn top prizes in COVID-19 art contest

Contest was open to all Indigenous youth in the province

Two Chilliwack youth have have won the top prizes in an art and video contest through a Fraser Valley aboriginal child welfare agency.

In April, Xyólheméylh put a call out to all Indigenous children and youth in the province to create either posters or a video to describe their feelings about social distancing and COVID-19.

Emma-Lee Kelly and Myka Friesen both earned top place in their chosen categories.

Kelly, 11, is from Soowahlie First Nation near Cultus Lake. The youth plays a ukulele in her video, which is complete with subtitles for singing along. In addition to singing, songwriting, and playing the ukulele, she also plays the piano and guitar. The judges chose her song, Six Feet Away, about the importance of physical distancing, and have also posted it and two others on their YouTube channel.

Bella Fitzgerald, 13, and Nikita Hance, 11, tied for second place, and their videos are available on the same YouTube channel.

“We organized the contest to connect with children and youth who may be feeling a myriad of emotions during this strange time and to provide them with an outlet to express their feelings,” said Kyla Darby, executive director of programs at Xyólheméylh. “The entries showed a lot of creativity, heart and talent.”

READ MORE: Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

For the poster category, the winners were Myka Friesen, 17, in first place, Jada Michel, 18, in second place, and Cora McIntyre, 15, earning third.

Friesen also lives in Chilliwack.

Darby says many of the entries expressed unique concerns about the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.In particular, concerns about the safety of elders who carry First Nations history and teachings was a common theme.

The winners were chosen by a panel consisting of the members of the Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children and Family Services Society board of directors and Elders Advisory Committee.

“We received many artistic, creative and thoughtful entries and it was a real challenge to pick a top three,” said Marion Mussell, president of the board. “To our young artists thank you for sharing your work and please keep sharing your excellent artistry. The Board is honoured to have been part of this and we extend our heartfelt appreciation to all who participated and our congratulations to the prize winners,” T

The winners received cash prizes and their art will be displayed in Xyólheméylh’s offices.

READ MORE: Contest calls on B.C. families to share ‘kitchen hack’ for chance at winning $1,000


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