Vancouver Mural Festival’s Indigenous Program supports artists and organizations in the creation of public art and workshops for youth. We believe Coast Salish and other Indigenous artists have the power to reshape urban spaces by reflecting their contemporary and traditional values, stories, experiences, and ideas in this lasting and tangible way. Vancity’s generous support enables us to better connect the stories of these programs with the public. Below you will find information in the form of videos, pictures, interviews, articles, and more.
Note: Our definition of Indigenous includes First Nations, Métis, and Inuit.
Musqueam artists Alicia Point and Cyler Sparrow-Point and South-Asian Canadian artists Keerat Kaur, Sunroop Kaur, and Sandeep Johal and historian Naveen Girn have produced a collaborative site-specific mural named “Taike-Sye’yə.” This mural centers the commemoration of the Komagata Maru Episode that occurred in 1914 in the Burrard Inlet where 368 predominantly Sikh passengers were denied entrance to Canada based on the newly created "Continuous Passage Law" designed to block immigration of racialized people into Canada.
This piece depicts a Coast Salish gesture of welcoming and gratitude. The animals, mountains, rivers, and trees represent our connection to nature, while the red of the women’s dresses are in recognition of the hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women across the country.
This mural depicts a famous Haida Story of Raven, bringing light to the world by becoming a human in order to trick a chief into giving him the sun which was hidden in a storage box.
The central circular figure of this piece is a ‘meeting ground’, which symbolises people from all walks of life coming together to express a common love and interest for art. The dotting in this artwork represents different lands that we each come from. The Rainbow Serpent or ‘Garriya’ is a central creator spirit in the Aboriginal Dreaming, and provides protection to all at the Vancouver Mural Festival.
Voted by Georgia Straight Magazine readers as the best artistic response to the overdose crisis in 2017, The Healing Quilt was the product of work by a variety of community arts organizations who wanted to commemorate lost friends, while giving the community something to help lift up their spirits. The project was paid for with support from Vancity, The City of Vancouver, and Vancouver Mural Festival.
This mural focuses on the powerful connection of Vancouver and it’s local indigenous nations to the spirit and animals of the ocean. It includes more than one hundred unique and vibrant colours sampled from images of both above and below the ocean surface. At more than 8 stories tall, this is the largest piece of public art in Vancouver by an artist from one of the three host nations (Musqueam, Squamish, & Tsleilwaututh) on whose unceded territory Vancouver currently resides. This project was generously supported by Vancity
Created in memory of the artist’s mother and in honour of her dedication to making East Vancouver a better place. Derek Edenshaw is an established Indigenous artists but much of his roots as an artist are steeped in Graffiti culture. As a graffiti writer he goes by MANIK 1NDERFUL
This mural (Jean-Paul Langlois’ first) is taken from his series of paintings titled “Old West.” This series is a tribute to the artists love of the western genre, specifically Spaghetti Westerns. Themes of violence, revenge, racism, good versus evil, the story of colonization itself. Increasingly distorted and abstracted, The artist is often seeking to boil western iconography to its most basic elements.
VMF partners each year to support one project by residents and local groups on the Downtown Eastside. In 2018 DTES Centre for the Arts suggested working with emerging artist Charlene Johnny who was just finishing school at Native Education College on Main Street. Charlene’s work typically focuses on other artistic mediums, however with multiple artistic awards under her belt, she was up for the challenge.
KC Hall seamlessly merges his North Coast Formline style with contemporary abstract, manga, and Graffiti visuals to form a distinct artistic vision that is totally his own. Bright colours, shapes, and gradients overlap as the hard black lines of graffiti and formline weave in and out of each other. His graffiti background also allows the artist to work incredibly quickly. This was painted over the course of only a day.
Carrielynn’s Stellar’s Jay design may seem familiar to those who frequent Mount Pleasant due to the fact that in 2018 it was chosen to fly on banners in the iconic Vancouver neighbourhood. It’s no surprise that nature is a major inspiration for her as in addition to her successful art practice she holds certificates in environmental services and manages an environmental consulting firm.
The mural depicts two Thunderbirds wrestling around the sun with a conversation in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and hən̓q̓əm̓inəm̓-- the two Indigenous languages of Vancouver shared between the Musqueam, Squamish and the Tsleil-Waututh people. The sentences say the same thing: "Is this our land?.”
Jordan states that the "People of the Inlet" have a close relationship to the land and the animals. He chose to depict a symbolic frog. In Coast Salish art the use of the frog typically symbolizes the voice of the people as well as innocence, stability and communication. It is also considered to be good luck.
Slurpee Stupor is an homage to chance encounters and things that can only really happen in East Van.
The whole of the head of False Creek east of Main Street, was at one time a great mudflat, much like a great circular pool in the forest clad hills surrounding, now filled in. Sturgeon or q ∑ta: yθ n were once fished in these mud flats and were referred to as 'sister' when handling them. This tradition follows a story of a sister who loved the water so much, she was transformed into the sturgeon to help future generations.
This image represents unconditional love, blessings and kindness. The image is representative of different First Nations artistic styles. A woman embracing, surrounded by the teepee poles representing home and the bond between them.
The Skipper, the Trickster, The Hunter, and the Dancer travel in a canoe transcending time and space. Stardust, Sea Monsters, electricity and water are interwoven with ancestral iconography and color. Travelling as one into the unknown, each element interconnects into the whole.
Trypophobia is a proposed fear of “irregular patterns or clusters of small holes or bumps.” An explanation is that this reaction could be a defence mechanism alerting to poisonous elements in the environment. This piece is intended to bring to focus and awareness of self destructive patterns of behaviour humans have which impact on the environment.
The sacred Thunderbird, Shxwexwo:s is a mythical being in Salish territory who represents STRENGTH and POWER. Zac George, Skokaylem, a Salish Artist from Tsleil-waututh Nation, has created this image in honor of the strength and balance required to live in two worlds. Whether it is emotional, spiritual, political, and in any walk of life, we must BALANCE everything with strength and resilience to persevere.
With the depiction of the revered Chief Capilano, these two artists collaborated on a design that connects to local Capilano history and a swuqulh theme. The theme is also about turning the page back to remember where we've come from, and to remember that Indigenous people and culture are always evolving. The colours and shapes are inspired by woven patterns in the blankets as well as the surrounding trees and facilities.
The house design-split-eagle-box represents everything negative and positive, balancing negative/positive spaces, and opening up with the guidance of eagle reveals the movement of spirit bringing healing and nourishment to soul.
For this piece Corey Bulpitt played off of the Haida crest system, in which different families are represented by animals crests, to adorn the iconic Downtown Eastside location, with formline Pigeons. He sees them as the unofficial crest of both urban indigenous non-indigenous residents of the DTES.
KC Hall seamlessly merges his North Coast Formline style with contemporary abstract, manga, and Graffiti visuals to form a distinct artistic vision that is totally his own. Bright colours, shapes, and gradients overlap as the hard black lines of graffiti and formline weave in and out of each other. His graffiti background also allows the artist to work incredibly quickly. This was painted over the course of only a few days.
This mural is painted on two cement pillars of the Granville Street Bridge near the Public Market on Granville Island. They wrap around the 20 ft diameter pillars and measure over 44 ft in height. The piece serves as a vibrant landmark to the incredible resurgence of Coast Salish weaving and culture, of which Debra is at the forefront.
These two artists have been collaborating on artworks for the last few years. They have been amalgamating their styles together to find a balance of approaches and techniques. This is their first full mural together. The wall’s particular shape reminded James of a long house. Traditionally, a long house is a place of gathering, sharing food and stories, so they wanted to use this space to tell a story from Lauren’s (Haitian/Japanese) background and put a Salish twist on it.
At only 18 years old, Atheana is the youngest artist to ever paint in the Vancouver Mural Festival. The bumpy siding of the house was not the most ideal surface to paint, but with the help of some friends she pushed through and the final result is definitely a testament to the talent of this emerging artist.