Heading into a public washroom is often an unpleasant experience, but it’s been made a little bit less so at Esquimalt Lagoon Beach, thanks to the work of Namgis artist Jamin Zuroski.
Zuroski, in partnership with the City of Colwood, has installed vinyl wraps on the new doors to the public washrooms on Ocean Boulevard, showcasing different aspects of nature using the style of Indigenous formline.
“The sun that’s on one of the doors, it reminds me us of how it gives us nourishment and strength for our day,” he said. “The moon that’s on one of the other doors guides us and provides us wisdom in the night and the animals … remind us of our life’s purpose and how we walk softly, purposely and lovingly in this world.”
Greater Victoria residents may be becoming increasingly familiar with Zuroski’s work, who through his work in the Sooke School District’s Indigenous role model program has done several installations at area schools, most recently a carved wooden heart at Monterey Middle School in Oak Bay for Orange Shirt Day.
Zuroski was introduced to Indigenous form line by a teacher at his elementary school, Clarence “Butch” Dick of Songhees Nation who taught his craft for many years at schools in the Greater Victoria district. Another of his mentors is Victor Newman, father of renowned Indigenous artist Carey Newman, who Zuroski has worked with on a number of projects.
He appreciates now being in a position to pass on his knowledge, noting that working with SD62 students has been rewarding.
“What I noticed right away is the patience, the listening, the automatic connection, like not being distracted by anything else that’s happening in the room, just totally focusing in on the learning,” he said.
Zuroski is working on a number of projects and said there’s more of a space now for Indigenous arts in schools and public buildings.
“Sharing art and storytelling is very important, especially in Victoria and the surrounding areas. We all have different backgrounds and lots of different folks from surrounding areas move here and and want to feel connected and valued and know that their gifts matter.”
The City of Colwood said in a Facebook post that installing the new doors “was an opportunity to add beauty and interest while offering a reminder of the rich Indigenous history of the waterfront.”