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New sculpture celebrates Port Moody's Coast Salish heritage

PORT MOODY — The work, at 50 Electronic Avenue, was unveiled last Friday, Sept. 29.
Coast Salish artist James Harry stands by as his new sculpture, Lháẃḵem, is given a traditional Coast Salish blessing. The work was officially unveiled at 50 Electronic Ave. in Port Moody last Friday.

A new work of public art along Port Moody's Murray Street celebrates the city's Coast Salish origins while fostering unity, pride and cultural appreciation.

Lháẃḵem, or Blue Mussel, was unveiled last Friday, Sept. 29, during a special Indigenous blessing ceremony in front of the 50 Electronic Avenue condo complex.

It was crafted by Squamish Nation artist James Harry, who comes from a family of master carvers.

The piece draws its inspiration from the rich bounty of sea life in the Pacific Ocean that nourished Indigenous communities for generations.

"For the Coast Salish people, the ocean has always been a cherished home," said a statement about the sculpture that resembles the shells of a mussel standing on end.

The gentle white curves are adorned with intricate designs that honour Coast Salish culture while a soft nighttime glow from within entices viewers to explore its depths.

"Just as mussels protect themselves with shells in nature, the artist deliberately separates the sculpture to symbolize transparency," the statement added.

The sculpture is part of The Panatch Group's amenity commitment the developer pledged to the community as a component of its 50 Electronic Avenue project that is comprised of 358 residential units in two six storey buildings on the site of an old television factory.

The project also includes 18,000 sq. ft. of commercial space on the ground floor, much of it already occupied by a Fraser Health urgent care clinic, a fitness centre, a bakery, pizza restaurant and wine bar.

The company also contributed $250,000 towards reconstruction of the nearby Shoreline trail and donated a bus to a local seniors organization, The Club, to help members travel around the Tri-Cities.