Friday, 15 March 2013

Salmon Story

The other carver I met at The Squamish Lil'wat Culteral Centre in Whistler Village was Rick Harry.  His ancestral name is Xwalacktun, and he was Splash's teacher and mentor.  Now they appear to be very companionable peers.  Rick is completing two totems which he started in mid December.  The one in the sketch portrays two salmon.  The upper fish does not have an adipose fin ( the one between the dorsal and the tail).  This fin must be removed to identify fish farmed salmon.  This sculpture is in keeping with the Coast Salish/ Squamish Nation tradition of totems as structural posts inside  longhouses, as visual reminders of events and stories.  This story is very contemporary, as it is about the concerns for our coastal environment and the health of wild salmon.  The fish are abstracted and lyrical, with sublime sense of motion.

Rick's second piece is topped by a Thunderbird who's wings are spirally wound around symbols of coastal tribes and rock paintings.  It represents the greater power or spirit which unifies the various ancient peoples of the west coast.  An optimistic  message of unity, expressed in Rick's poetic carving.
What a contribution to his culture and our country.

Rick was signing the salmon totem by carving his Bear Paw symbol which is proudly under scripted with the letters OBC -  a reference to his Order of British Columbia.  This recognizes his social and artistic contribution to both his first nation heritage and British Columbia (and Canada) as a whole.  He wears the pin on his cap.  Even better, he's a delightfully down to earth guy to meet and talk to.  What an inspiring afternoon.  His website is www.xwalactun.ca





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