The final piece of a Coast Salish art installation has been unveiled at the Regional District of Nanaimo boardroom.
After four previous works were installed last October, a ceremony was held May 28 for Supernatural Eagle bringing the Salmon to the People, by Snunueymuxw artist William Good, prior to an RDN regular board meeting. The spindle whorl was carved from red cedar, which has special meaning to Coast Salish people. Speaking to the audience, Aunalee Boyd-Good, Good’s daughter, said spindle whorls were traditionally used to spin wool and traditional Coast Salish art tells a story.
“Stylistically, it is in the traditional Coast Salish style and it houses the supernatural eagle design, which is one of the Good family crests … the story in this piece is that there’s a supernatural eagle bringing the salmon to the people,” said Boyd-Good. “The people were starving. They hardly had any food, so the man in the centre is praying to the creator and he is seeking help and the creator sent the supernatural eagle to bring the salmon to the people so they could eat.
“The salmon is still a main staple and highly cherished by Hul’q’umi’num people, so it’s a story of hope. With the supernatural eagle bringing salmon to the people, it leaves us all full and enriched and together gives us all a sense of community.”
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Good said he sees his spindle whorl as part of a resurgence of Snuneymuxw culture.
“For me, it is a monumental day … for our people, for our children, for our grandchildren,” Good told the audience. “It has been a dream of mine, all my life, to see a culture come back, our art form come back and I’ve been working on that my whole life.”
Howard Houle, former RDN director for Gabriola Island, who was on the art selection committee and originally proposed a motion for the indigenous art, said he was pleased to see all the art finally in place.
“It’s a wonderful thing for the regional district, it’s a wonderful thing for the Snuneymuxw people,” said Houle. “When I made these motions seven years ago to bring this art here, I couldn’t imagine what we’ve got now. It’s just so inspiring and I’m just so happy with it.”