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City unveils new Indigenous murals as part of Canada 150+ program

July 22 2017

Sea to Sky mural for Canada 150+
Photograph by Rachel Topham

As part of our Canada 150+ program, we commissioned a series of six paint and print murals created by Indigenous artists and artist teams, four of which have been completed this week. The new public art is part of our ongoing commitment to reconciliation and strengthening of relations between Indigenous communities and Vancouverites.

The public art program issued a call for murals in January 2017 and received 47 applications. Of the artists who applied, 70% were applying to work with us for the first time. The six successful applicant teams were reviewed and chosen by a selection panel of Indigenous artists and art professionals.

Murals ready now

The below projects were completed this week. A Canada 150+ Downtown Walking Tour of all four sites will be available as part of the Drum is Calling Festival. Tours will take about an hour and are free for the public to attend. They will run at 4:00pm on Sunday, July 23, Monday, July 24, and Wednesday, July 26.

Sea to Sky

  • Location: Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza - Light Box (650 Hamilton Street)
  • Artist: Kelly Cannell External website

This project represents all of what Canada has to offer in terms of natural landscapes, abounding wildlife, and rich cultural diversity. Located on traditional Coast Salish territory, the artwork represents a land where our ancestors lived and gained their livelihoods. The imagery shows Vancouver's surroundings in the heart of the city, while acknowledging the four directions (north, east, south, and west).

Sea to Sky mural
Photo by Rachel Topham

Heartbeat

  • Location: Queen Elizabeth Theatre east windows on the 600-block of Cambie Street
  • Artist: Jay Havens External website

This piece is a response to two seminal moments in Canadian history. The first is the iconic speech given by Chief Dan George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation on July 1, 1967 (the Canadian Centennial), and the second was a mural commissioned by the Canadian Museum of Civilization completed in 1978 titled "The Indian in Transition" by Daphne Odjig, a Woodland artist and long-time BC resident.

Time Immemorial

  • Location: Vancouver Central Library Aperture Banners (350 W Georgia Street)
  • Artist: Ryan McKenna

The banners focus on the multi-faceted identity of Vancouver's First Nations by displaying the people through images that characterize aboriginal values, such as knowledge, tradition, and family. It also serves as social commentary for the present position of Indigenous people living in an urban landscape. All of the models for these drawings live in the city of Vancouver and represent people from nations within and around Vancouver such as those from the Bella Coola, Musqueam, Haida, Squamish, and Lillooet nations.

Time Immemorial
Photo by Rachel Topham

Spirits of the Realms

  • Location: 600 Beatty Street
  • Artists: Haisla Collins, Jerry Whitehead, Sharifah Marsden, Mehren Razmpoosh, Richard Shorty, and Vanessa Walterson

This mural is about Indigenous cultures and stories of First Peoples across Canada. The background colours of black, white, yellow, and red represent the four directions of the medicine wheel and the three realms (earth, sky, and sea) of the peoples who live along the Northwest Coast. The mural is meant to honour all the First Peoples of Canada, their cultures, stories, and understandings.

Spirits of the Realms
Photo by Rachel Topham

Murals coming this fall

Nekú netsí kezhi

  • Location: Vancouver City Centre Canada Line Station (at Georgia and Granville streets)
  • Artist: Krystle Coughlin

Translating to "our home and native land", this project is a photomontage of images taken in Vancouver, representing simplified Northern First Nations. The image is an abstraction with interconnecting forms and is symbolic of the complications of reconciliation. The abstract nature is also meant to represent a celebration to align with Canada 150.

Naa Tsmah

  • Location: Alley behind Army Navy (36 West Cordova/27 West Hastings)
  • Artists: Larissa Healy and Shadae Johnson

Meaning "one heart one mind", this mural is representative of the living in two worlds. The artist team will paint their stories of what it means to be people of the unceded Coast Salish lands while sharing the land with immigrants who have made this their home.

Presenting partners

Thank you to our presenting partners Vancouver Public Library Central Branch, Vancouver Civic Theatres, and InTransit BC (Vancouver City Centre Canada Line Station) for providing the space to bring these works to life.

Our commitment to funding public art

The Canada 150+ mural program is part of the City's commitment to funding public art. From 2016 to 2018, we committed an additional $1.5 million in funding for grants and partnerships with non-profit organizations as part of a public art boost. The public art boost funding is in addition to the existing commitments the city makes through Signature Fund projects, open calls, and private development requirements to commission original works of public art across the city, contributing to the vibrancy of Vancouver. Through the public art boost and various civic programs, 44 new murals and eight light and temporary installation works were supported in 2016 and 21 new projects including singular artworks and events, and dozens of new murals were approved for 2017-2018.