Title: Is This Our Land?
Artist: Khelsilem - Squamish / Sḵwx̱wú7mesh
Event: Vancouver Mural Festival
Description: 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?.” The piece was created in the context of the Vancouver Mural Festival to create conversation around a variety of issues at play around land rights, reconciliation, indigenous visibility, gentrification, and more.
Khelsilem is an Sḵwx̱wú7mesh-Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw independent creative professional. He was born and raised in his Sḵwx̱wú7mesh- homelands on the North Shore of Vancouver. He has been active in the social, political and cultural movement to reclaim nearly extinct Indigenous languages in British Columbia. He is the founder of university education programs focused on the revitalization of his people’s language.
In late 2017, he was elected as a councillor with the Squamish Nation Council and then appointed as a spokesperson for the Squamish Nation Council, representing 4,050+ Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and a Board Member with Kwi Awt Stelmexw.
Vancouver Mural Festival’s Indigenous Programs 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.