Komagata Maru Mural Project
Artists: Keerat Kaur, Alicia Point (Musqueam, Stó:lō, Kwantlen) , Cyler Sparrow-Point (Musqueam)
Community Partners: Naveen Girn & Indian Summer Festival
VMF Community Projects are generously supported by: YVR
Taike-Sye’yə: A Mural Centering the Komagata Maru Episode @ The Harry Stevens Federal Building
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. Specifically, the artwork depicts oral accounts given by both South Asian and Musqueam community members who tell of the Musqueam paddlers who canoed out across the inlet to feed the passengers on the boat as they were blocked access to the shore for 62 days. The collaborative mural transforms 4,000 square feet of the exterior wall of the Harry Stevens Federal Building at 125 East 10th Avenue (Vancouver) into a highly visible public site of remembrance and site for sparking dialogue regarding promotion of cultural redress with Indigenous and South Asian communities. Note: The Harry Stevens, the building’s namesake, was a central governmental figure in the denial of the passenger's entry into Canada during the Komagata Maru Episode.
What does “Taike-Sye’yə” mean?
The mural’s title is a combination of a Punjabi word (Taike) and the Musqueam word (Sye’yə) in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓. The unique (Vancouver dialect only) Punjabi word is related to the word: 'taiyya' which denotes a kin relationship, a father's eldest brother. The word 'taike' is derived from this and has a closer affinity to the English word 'cousin'. The Punjabi word originated in shared working environments and shared experiences between South Asians and Indigenous Nation's in BC - and specifically Vancouver. Look for the word Taike, on one of the canoes. Sye’yə, is a hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ word for ‘friend’. Sye’yə was chosen by Alicia Point in colaboration with Larry Grant, her elder from Musqueam as a word that matches well with Taike, and represents the friendship that has formed through experiences depicted in this mural. Very Special thanks Larry Grant, Naveen Girn and Sadhu Binning Ph.D for sharing their knowledge on these words and their origins.
Created in partnership with Naveen Girn and The Indian Summer Festival. Vancouver Mural Festival's Community Projects are generously supported by YVR.
About Keerat Kaur:
Keerat Kaur is a Canadian-born artist and artisan who works through painting, music, and architecture. She draws inspiration from indic philosophies to create surrealist imagery with underlying themes of spirituality and fantasia, while employing an aesthetic that evokes a dream-like quality. She received her BA in 2012 and her Master of Architecture in 2016, and currently lives and works between Toronto-London, Ontario.
About Alicia Point: Alicia Point took an early interest in art watching her seven brothers draw and paint. Her artistic inspirations are Freida Dreisling and Roy Vickers. She takes pride in creating art that is relevant to her modern life. She has carved masks, paddles, tables, clocks, and more. Her largest piece prior to this mural was a 20 foot by 20 foot mural at Southlands Elementary School in Vancouver.
Alicia enjoys continuing the Salish Art tradition and the opportunity to pass it down to her children and grandchildren. For this project Alicia worked with her Grandson, Cyler Sparrow-Point.She explains “Art tells us who we are and where we come from.”
Alicia’s father is from the Bear clan of Chehalis, British Columbia. My mother is from the Owl clan of Kwantlen British Columbia. Her husband and children are Musqueam.