Virgil “Smoker” Marchand was the artist behind pieces like Bringing Our Children Home, the residential school survivor memorial on Penticton Indian Band land. (Brennan Phillips - Western News File)

Virgil “Smoker” Marchand was the artist behind pieces like Bringing Our Children Home, the residential school survivor memorial on Penticton Indian Band land. (Brennan Phillips - Western News File)

Virgil ‘Smoker’ Marchand, Indigenous artist behind iconic Okanagan statues, dead at 71

Marchand passed away in Washington state on Jan. 13

The celebrated Indigenous artist behind many of the Okanagan’s more well-known statues has passed away in Washington State.

The Colville Confederate Tribes announced the death of Virgil “Smoker” Marchand on Friday, Jan. 14.

The many iconic pieces of art that Marchand created can be seen across the Okanagan Valley on both sides of the border, and include the statue in front of the Desert Cultural Centre in Osoyoos as well as his piece Bringing Our Children Home located atthe Residential School monument on the Penticton Indian Band land.

READ MORE: Emotional day as monument unveiled in Penticton

At age 71, Marchand was a member of the Colville Business Council, the governing body of the Colville Confederated Tribes, when he passed.

“The Colville Business Council is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our colleague, Smoker Marchand. Smoker was a strong voice for his people and he brought a unique perspective to tribal government. We will all miss him,” said chairman Jarred-Michael Erickson in a news release.

“There will be time in the future to discuss Smoker’s life and accomplishments. For now, we want to respect the privacy of Smoker’s family and loved ones in this period of grief and ask others to do the same,” the chairman added.

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