New Squamish Nation public art

Gibsons Town Centre

The waters and forests surrounding Gibsons are considered to be the birthplace of the Squamish Nation. Yet there are no signs that an indigenous culture once thrived on the shores of the modern townsite. This changes Oct. 28, with the unveiling and blessing of a new permanent display of Squamish Nation art at the town’s centre. 

The Gibsons Public Art Gallery (GPAG) has asked Sinàmkin (Jody Broomfield), the Squamish Nation artist behind a number of acclaimed public art displays across Vancouver and Whistler, to design a new façade for the exterior of the Gallery. This display for Gibsons will feature a hand-crafted cedar panel carving that depicts a human, with hands raised in the Salish gesture of thanks, with an eagle, bear, whale and salmon. The design represents the Squamish people’s connection to the land, water and sky, with the salmon sustaining life for all of the species. The motif will be repeated on panels with a colourful rainbow backdrop across the building’s rooftop awning. 

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Broomfield has been recognized with multiple awards for his public art creations. His design credits also include the 2006 Winter Olympic participant medallions (in Turin, Italy) and coins produced by the Royal Canadian Mint. 

The Gallery is honoured to host this new vibrant piece of public art in Gibsons, and the whole community is invited to welcome a prominent return of Squamish art and culture to their ancestral Sunshine Coast territory. The artist will be attending the gallery with members of the Squamish Nation for an opening reception ceremony on Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. All are welcome! The Gallery’s AGM will follow at 2:30 p.m. 

At Canada 150, sponsoring and supporting works of indigenous culture is a meaningful, constructive way that communities can participate to help shift the course of Canadian history. GPAG would like to rally community support for commissioning future works of art from contemporary Squamish Nation artists. Imagine driving off the ferry to a welcoming pole and multiple displays of Squamish art placed throughout our community! Embracing new expressions of Squamish culture provides opportunities for Squamish artists and supports healthy indigenous communities by fostering this connection to territory and culture. A strong Squamish cultural presence on the lower Sunshine Coast will create new points of interest that can be enjoyed year round by all residents and visitors. 

This public art initiative is made possible for Canada 150 with the support of the Province of British Columbia/BC Museums Association, the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th (a collaboration between the Community Foundations of Canada, the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation and the government of Canada), the Town of Gibsons, the Sunshine Coast Regional District, Vital Signs & Graphics, and Longman Developments. 

The Gibsons Public Art Gallery (www.gpag.ca) is a non-profit organization, run by volunteers. Admission is free. Follow us on Facebook or visit in person at 431 Marine Drive, Gibsons. 

For further information, contact Stewart Stinson at stewart@gpag.ca or 604-989-8634.

– Submitted

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