The Squamish Arts Council was proud to award grants in 2017 for Arts and Culture Enhancement in the community to several amazing projects that focus on community and connection to arts, culture and heritage. One of the recipients was the Cheakamus Centre in Paradise Valley, Squamish.

The Centre paired with renowned Squamish Nation artist, Xwalacktun OBC (Rick Harry), to introduce a beautiful House Post that represents truth and reconciliation. Xwalacktun’s works are recognized internationally. He was a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in early 2013 and in 2012 he received the prestigious honour of the Order of British Columbia (O.B.C.) for his many contributions to various communities. In Squamish, Xwalactun’s artwork is featured on the 20-foot-tall Squamish Pedestrian overpass spanning Highway #99, The Sea to Sky Highway, plus a red cedar memorial pole for Transport Canada.

Below is a description of the House Post from Xwalacktun:

“The house post illustrates a human with their hands raised situated between an eagle, the hands raised gesture indicates a “thank you” gesture for finally recognizing the past and where we must move to now.

In order to have reconciliation we must have balance, and this is achieved through the depiction of two salmon; with balance we have become family once again.

A wolf sits on the bottom of House Post feeling happy as it is well fed with education, food and nurture.

Returning to the top of the Post, we see a beautiful butterfly. The butterfly symbolizes change through its four stages of change within its life cycle.

The eagle reminds us that we are watched, and that we are connected to something greater than us. The eyes of the eagle are pictured in spiritual form rather than their normal state, to show the eagle looking further and deeper; this symbolizes strength and enlightenment.

And, down below we see the Coast Salish Eye to remind us there is a connection to something greater than us.”

The project aims to respect and highlight indigenous art forms such as carving and representation of culture through art. Additionally, the project also hopes to spur meaningful dialogue around Truth and Reconciliation and foster community connection. Youth are also involved in the creation of the artwork to pass on knowledge and artistic skill development of an art form that is a representation of culture and a means of expression and storytelling.

Stay tuned throughout the season for more updates on the Community Arts & Culture Grant projects!

See more of Xwalactun’s work at https://www.xwalacktun.ca, and visit the Cheakamus Centre at http://www.cheakamuscentre.ca.