The multi-million dollar Heritage Crystal Tipi was unveiled at Vernon’s Sparkling Hills Resort last Saturday as a thank you from Gernot Langes-Swarovski, the patriarch of the Swarovski crystal family and visionary behind the Sparkling Hill Resort near Vernon, to the First Nations Peoples of the North Okanagan. (Caitlin Clow - Morning Star)

Sparkling spotlight put on Okanagan First Nations

Sparkling Hill unveils Heritage Crystal Tipi

The unveiling of the multi-million dollar Heritage Crystal Tipi at Sparkling Hill Resort near Vernon last Saturday afternoon brought together First Nations Peoples and community members in celebration.

The gift allows onlookers to take a moment and reflect on the history of the land while gazing up at the many paintings and symbols encrusted in Swarovski crystals.

Entrepreneur Gernot Langes-Swarovski, the patriarch of the Swarovski crystal family and visionary behind the Sparkling Hill Resort near Vernon, was unable to attend the event.

Okanagan Indian Band Chief Bryon Louis was present Saturday to welcome guests to the North Okanagan for the unveiling.

Chief Louis explained the lands where Sparkling Hill Resort sits was important land for the Indigenous People of the Okanagan. It was home to many trails that were used to travel to what is known today as Oyama, and later it was the site of a reserve that was established in 1977.

Langes-Swarovski wanted to find a special and unique way to show his gratitude to the Okanagan First Nations people for allowing him to build on their natural pristine ancestry lands.

In his search, Langes-Swarovski reached out to his visionary friend, Stephen Cipes, the proprietor of Summerhill Pyramid Organic Winery who has embraced Indigenous cultural history into his business.

Cipes was able to find an artist who could create paintings that tell the story of the First Nations heritage in the valley.

Cipes introduced Okanagan artist Ron Hall to Langes-Swarovski, who then worked closely with Sparkling Hill Resort CEO Hans-Peter Mayr as well as the Swarovski creative team in Austria on the project.

“Without you both (Cipes and Hall), we wouldn’t be here this afternoon to celebrate a very unique step forward to respect the traditions and the heritage of our First Nations,” Mayr said.

They produced 16 oil paintings, all of which have been cast in crystal in Austria and are now to be exhibited in the Heritage Crystal Tipi.

These crystal paintings, each with a deeply meaningful story that accompanies each painting, are intended to serve as an inspiration to respect the historic traditions, heritage and ancestry of the First Nations peoples.

“This is a very special time here, unveiling a very wonderful gesture of appreciation of the First Nations People,” Cipes said.

As for the motifs chosen to be emblazoned in crystal: ”We picked as best we could the legends of our people for thousands of years. “

The unveiling Saturday, by invitation only, was led by First Nation Elder Pauline Gregor, who led the grand opening of the spectacular 149-room “healing resort” in 2010.

Future guests of Sparkling Hill and the public will be able to visit the magnificent three-story high Heritage Crystal Tipi and experience the magic of the colourful Swarovski crystals as they reflect off the sun during the day and the evening lights.

There are over 3.5 million Swarovski crystals throughout the resort, meant to create an ambiance of calm and serenity.

Opened in 2010, Sparkling Hill Resort quickly became one of the premier health and wellness spa resort destinations in North America.

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