By Mina Kerr-Lazenby
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Vibrant, First Nations art now welcomes commuters and travellers at Waterfront Station and Lonsdale Quay, following the installation of new signage to the TransLink SeaBus terminals.
Taking inspiration from the Burrard Chinook SeaBus, which launched in July 2021 with a shiny new exterior, the installations pay tribute to the chinook salmon and the iconic role it plays as part of the ecosystem on the west coast.
TransLink, in a released statement, said the signage “supports Indigenous language revitalization and preservation by creating awareness of the deep connections to the land and waters by the ancestors and current Indigenous community members.”
“We’re honoured to have had Musqueam, Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nations and Indigenous artists share their sacred and unique languages, histories, and cultures with us,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn.
“Our hope is that the combination of these cultural recognition pieces will remind us all of the important work we have to do to support lasting and meaningful reconciliation.”
Located above the SkyWalk doors and along the windows near the SeaBus terminal at Waterfront Station, the signs depict rich underwater scenes, complete with a shoal of salmon, an orca and a lazing sea lion.
Both h?n?q??min??m? (spoken by Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh peoples) and S?wx?wu7mesh snichim (Squamish language) are featured, with messages that translate to “Welcome” and “Welcome to our lands and waters.” In English, another transcription reads “You have arrived at the place known for falling maple leaves, a place name of the Squamish people.”
“I am so grateful to have the opportunity to create custom artwork that welcomes all people into the region now called Vancouver and Burrard Inlet,” said Tsleil-Waututh artist q??nat Angela George.
George, who created the signs and the Burrard Chinook Seabus designs alongside Coast Salish artist ??y?x?at?na:t Kelly Cannell and Squamish artist Siobhan Joseph, said the vivid designs of the murals hold “ancestral knowledge” and “reflect the vibrant history and beauty” of the lands and waters that make up Vancouver.
Joseph said she was “honoured” to represent her nation with her art, and to do so alongside “two amazing female Indigenous artists,”, while Cannell said it is an “incredible opportunity”
to have her artwork be a part of visitors’ and residents’ journeys.
“Bringing awareness to my culture, as well as our environmental surroundings, are the most important aspects of my work,” she said.
Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.