A 500-year-old cedar from Bella Bella that was carved into a Coast Salish welcome figure now greets students and visitors to the Douglas College campus in Coquitlam.
The unveiling of Salmon Woman Welcomes Salmon Home by Gerry Sheena of the Lower Nicola Indian Band happened on today (Tuesday) — less than a week after the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and a year after the college marked its 50th year.
Sheena, a self-taught artist, told the crowd that he was “honoured and humbled” to work on the two-year project, adding that he hopes the figure will bring “peace, love and harmony” to its viewers.
College President Kathy Denton said the piece heralds an important milestone for the college, as well as a shift to Indigenization at the post-secondary institution in the form of new educational content for students, professional development for instructors and staff, and partnerships with the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) First Nation, as the campus lies on its unceded and traditional territory.
“This kind of work is so important and necessary to bring a bright future,” KFN Coun. John Peters said. “This kind of work gives us the opportunity to revitalize our culture.”