A symbolic new art piece now hangs prominently at Capilano University, to welcome First Nations students and acknowledge the school’s placement within the traditional territory of the Sechelt people.
Sechelt Indian Band (SIB) artist Shain Jackson created the piece, which was commissioned by First Nations advisor for the campus David Kirk.
“They wanted to add an Aboriginal theme and pay homage to the local First Nation, which I’m a very proud member of, so I thought if we’re going to leave our mark there, we should represent the four clans within our community. Those four clans are wolf, eagle, bear and frog,” Jackson said.
The carved art piece displaying the four images is made of salvaged cedar with strategic abalone inlays Jackson gathered as a by-product from fisheries. Environmentally sustainable work is important to Jackson.
“I try to use only recycled and salvaged products for strictly environmental purposes really. If it’s not salvaged, recycled or otherwise sustainable, we don’t want to use it. There’s just too much devastation going on in our forests and our oceans,” Jackson said.
Also important to Jackson is creating artwork that educates and brings people together.
“I’m involved in a lot of public service work, and when I was a lawyer as well, I tried to bring people together, which is what I try to do with my artwork,” he said. “So I thought it would be nice to shed some light on the essence of community, and for us it’s using the virtues or the attributes of every group for the betterment of the whole. I call this piece Unity Within Diversity.”
Capilano University dean Jean Bennett said Jackson’s artwork would help with “ongoing efforts to make the campus a place that Aboriginal learners see as a space that speaks to their identities.”
Jackson is now working on creating a functional art piece for the Mom Ay Mon Childcare facility on SIB lands.
“I’m trying to create with the help of some of our cultural keepers, including elders and other artists, a small mini longhouse because they want to do some outdoor schooling,” Jackson said. “The essence of the longhouse is that it’s a teaching facility so again I’ll be using the artwork to facilitate education.”
See more of Jackson’s work at www.authenticaboriginalproducts.ca.