Trevor Little sings and drums with his fellow Tseshaht First Nation members to celebrate the unveiling of the mural. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Alberni celebrates First Nations heritage with new mural

Image at the entrance of Harbour Quay depicts the history of Tseshaht First Nation

A newly-painted mural has been unveiled at the entrance to Port Alberni’s Harbour Quay, thanks to a community effort.

Although painting ended in August, the official celebration of the Port Alberni Arrowsmith Rotary Club’s community mural project took place on Saturday, Sept. 19. The celebration not only recognized the painting and its artists, but the community it helped to develop throughout the years.

Former Arrowsmith Rotary member Theresa Kingston first brought the idea to the club after a meeting with the city’s Reconciliation Committee in 2017. The City of Port Alberni was on board “immediately,” said Terry Deakin of the Arrowsmith Rotary Club, and the Port Alberni Port Authority (which owns the building) and Canadian Maritime Engineering (which leases the building) also expressed support.

READ MORE: ‘Racist’ MP’s name removed from Port Alberni school

READ MORE: Alberni forum to promote and address reconciliation

“The idea was to paint a mural themed around reconciliation,” explained Deakin.

However, throughout the process of planning the mural, hiring an artist and raising funds, the theme of the mural changed. The project was initiated in the spirit of reconciliation, but soon became a “building relationships” project, said Deakin.

“That helped us to acknowledge that we need to build community, we need to build relationships between our communities,” she said.

Port Alberni artist Shayne Lloyd was selected as the “lead artist” of the project, but he collaborated with Nuu-chah-nulth artists Tim Paul and Gordon Dick and consulted with members of Tseshaht First Nation before the painting began.

“When I first applied for this, I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” Lloyd admitted on Saturday. “At the end of the day, I feel honoured to be part of a group effort. I consider myself a conduit through which this project could happen.”

The project was largely organized and funded by the Port Alberni Arrowsmith Rotary Club. Its location at the entrance to Harbour Quay acts as a sort of base or “anchor” to the Rotary Arts District, explained Arrowsmith Rotary president Pam Craig on Saturday.

“It was a true community effort to have this mural come to fruition,” she said.

It was this community that gathered outside of the Port Alberni Train Station across the street from the mural on Saturday. Members of Tseshaht First Nation offered songs, while local political leaders offered their support and gratitude for the project.

Archeologist Denis St. Clair explained the story behind the mural. The image depicts the area now known as Harbour Quay, which was the Nation’s winter village where they celebrated their year’s harvest with a “wolf ritual.” In the centre are five portraits, representing the leaders of the five different First Nations based in the Broken Group Islands that amalgamated to create Tseshaht. The portrait in the centre depicts Tyee Haw’iih (hereditary chief) Adam Shewish.

On the right side of the mural is a picture of a young, modern-day Tseshaht First Nation child, representing the Nation’s future.

“We understand that the art of giving is the greatest art of all,” said artist Tim Paul on Saturday. “We need to always give to our young ones.”

Members of Tseshaht First Nation presented gifts on Saturday to the artists, as well as Terry Deakin for her role in organizing the project.

“[The mural] has brought so much pride to not only Tseshaht people but to the community as a whole,” said Tseshaht elected chief councillor Cynthia Dick. “It’s not just Tseshaht history, but recognizing our shared history as a community of the Port Alberni Valley.”

In the coming months, a plaque will be installed on the mural to explain the story behind it. To raise funds for the project, the Arrowsmith Rotary Club has been selling bricks at $25 a piece. Deakin says about half of the bricks have been sold to date. To purchase one, reach out to arrowsmithrotaryclub@gmail.com.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

ArtIndigenousPORT ALBERNI

 

Trevor Little gifts Terry Deakin of the Arrowsmith Rotary Club with a necklace made by his mother. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Terry Deakin of the Arrowsmith Rotary Club shows off the artwork she received as a gift from Tseshaht First Nation. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Members of Tseshaht First Nation celebrate the unveiling of a mural outside of Canadian Maritime Engineering on Saturday, Sept. 19. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Artist Tim Paul (centre), accompanied by his family and fellow artist Shayne Lloyd (far left), explains the significance of the mural on the side of the Canadian Maritime Engineering building. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Just Posted

The 21st annual Japanese Cultural Fair streams online Oct. 24 from noon to 3 p.m. (Facebook/Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society)
Esquimalt’s Japanese Cultural Fair takes tastes, experiences and cultures online

21st annual free event streams Saturday, Oct. 24 starting at noon

Kwick’kanum (Eric Pelkey), a hereditary chief of the Tsawout Nation, addressed the crowd that gathered at Mount Newton Cross Road and Highway 17 on Oct. 23. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway reopens after rally supporting Mi’kmaq fishing rights

Supporters call on government to recognize Indigenous treaty rights

The Baynes Sound Connector cable ferry. Black Press file photo
Baynes Sound Connector delayed due to emergency call

Paddleboarder was in distress near Union Bay Thursday

Premier John Horgan and Rob Douglas, BC NDP candidate for Cowichan Valley, meet with Cowichan First Nation elders, as they demonstrate spearfishing along the river. (Submitted)
Horgan acknowledges A&E sector hit hard by COVID-19, but showing signs of recovery

Hollywood North doing better than Hollywood South, Horgan says

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson,  BC NDP leader John Horgan and BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau. (File)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Climate change and sustainability promises from the parties

Snap election has led to a short campaign; here’s the lowdown on the platforms

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

Most Read