Traditional language comes alive on breakwater

Team leader Bonnie Quaite of the youth artist group prepares to paint a panel of the Land and Sea mural. The project’s second stage is now installed on the Ogden Point breakwater. It will be blessed by First Nations elders on Saturday (June 4).

Land and Sea mural’s second phase done

Despite being three years from completion, the beauty and relevance of the Land and Sea mural already decorates 256 metres of the Ogden Point breakwater.

“It’ll be four years to complete all of the mural,” said artist and designer Darlene Gait of Esquimalt First Nations.

Elders and healers from the Songhees and Esquimalt nations will be on hand to bless the second stage of the mural on Saturday (June 4).

Last month the second stage of the mural was installed – adding another 100 eight-by-four-foot panels to the 100 put up in 2010. Eventually the mural will wrap both sides of the breakwater.

“It’s an ongoing, outdoor exhibition for people to learn about the Songhees and Esquimalt nations in Victoria and the Island,” Gait said.

The fluent design of the mural is different this year than last year’s first phase. Most notable is a blessing in Lekwungen, the original language of First Nations in what is now Victoria, written along the top of the mural.

“It’s the first time the public will see the traditional language of the Songhees and Esquimalt people,” Gait said.

She added that only three people speak Lekwungen fluently in the world.

One is Tom Sampson, who teaches the language through a course at the Songhees Nation and translated the message now written on the mural. The English version of the blessing is posted on a kiosk on site.

Initially, the Land and Sea mural was orchestrated and funded by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority. With the project now on its own financially, Gait expects community fundraising and other donations will allow the project to be completed.

Gait is lead designer on the project, unifying the art and style of herself and Songhees artist Butch Dick. The drawing and painting is being done by teams of youth artists, a different one each year. The group consists of two Songhees artists, two Esquimalt artists, one from an outside tribe and one non-First Nations artist.

Saturday’s blessing begins at 1 p.m.

Built to last

• The Land and Sea mural was originally to be painted directly onto the cement of the seawall. That was deemed impractical for a variety of reasons. Instead, the art was painted on weather-treated plywood panels, which were later coated with material that organizers hope will endure the ocean elements for 50 years. They were then permanently installed on the seawall.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Loss of UVic dog park deals a blow to socially anxious pets

Owners of non-socialized dogs seek safe space following closure of Cedar Hill Corner

Residents around Sidney’s Reay Creek Pond welcome federal remediation efforts

It is not clear yet whether Sidney will renovate nearby dam at the same time

Public to weigh in on Colwood Royal Bay development Monday

Application to rezone lands north of Latoria Boulevard submitted to council

Camp fun still offered in Greater Victoria

Easter Seals offers day camp options to replace cancelled overnight camps

Swim advisory issued at Cadboro Bay beach due to high bacteria levels

Island Health advises against water activities, swimming

VIDEO: Langford cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

Most Read