The Forces of Nature
In this beautiful place more commonly known as Vancouver, there is a rich history that predates colonialism. Where Creator and all of it’s creatures have thrived since time immemorial. As a Quw’utsun’ artist residing on unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, I acknowledge that I am very blessed to be in such a place. I walk with pride knowing that my ancestors inhabited summer villages at the mouth of the Fraser River what we now call Richmond. Being able to incorporate traditional designs of the landscape and Creators' creatures into a modern display in one of Vancouver’s popular neighbourhoods is an incredible opportunity for me. I am grateful to be apart of the storefront at Fjällräven on West 4th ave. As an artist, I recognize that I am a knowledge keeper and storyteller. Most if not all of my art form is mimicking nature. Coast Salish design elements are just as much part of the landscape in every way that our language songs and dances.
Each of these panels makes up a small part of a bigger picture with various creatures we share the land with and how we are intertwined. Panel 1 and 2 feature a wolf howling out at the moon and mountains. This pair of pointed peaks can be seen from almost anywhere in our city, known as “The Two Lions." Chief Joe Capilano explains these mountains are ancestors and reminds of the story of the twin sisters, Ch’ich’iyúy and Elxwíḵn. The rich river systems that stream into the entire lower mainland and beyond pours rain out the masked figure over the mountains as Copper Woman’s Hair. These river streams carry salmon, the most important food source not only to indigenous peoples but also all of our 4 legged, winged and mammal relatives of the land and sea.
On the 3rd and 4th panel I have featured the sun over a great blue heron, bluejay, ducks and dragonflies on X̱epx̱páy̓em (Squamish) sʷəyəs (hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓) “Kits Beach." In the body of blue heron is a paddle and reflected as a cut-out is Vancouver Island, paying homage to my motherland and our travel routes between the island and mainland.
I believe that each of Creators' living creatures carry lessons from the land. We want to tread in harmony within these delicate ecosystems. This piece is a reminder to respect our surroundings. Beacons to live in unity with others and tread carefully together with nature.
This artwork will be on display at Fjällräven Kitsilano (1976 W 4th Ave) from Earth Day (April 22nd) onward.
This project was made in support of Kwi Awt Stelmexw, a language & arts society for the Squamish people. Donations to Kwi Awt Stelmexw can be made at https://www.kwiawtstelmexw.
We have built this in partnership with Eclipse Awards, carbon-neutral design company based in Vancouver, B.C.