Coast Salish Welcome Figure

Sinámkin handcarving the figure from a 350-year-old, 40-foot long red cedar log donated by the Squamish Nation. Photo: Charles Do.
Sinámkin working on the Sea-to-Sky Guardians: the eagle, bear and killer whale. Photo: Charles Do
Installation ceremony. Photo by SFU Creative Services.

Title/Date: Welcome Figure, 2017
Artist: Sinámkin – Jody Broomfield
Culture/Language Group: Sḵwxwú7mesh - Squamish
Media: Carved and Painted Red Cedar
Credit Line: SFU Collection
Location: Simon Fraser University, Burnaby Campus, Intersection of Gaglardi Way and South Campus Road

Context:

The Coast Salish welcome figure, hand-carved by Squamish artist Sinámkin, was unveiled on March 9th, 2017, during a traditional First Nations blessing ceremony. The blessing ceremony is an ancient tradition among the Squamish and was held to ensure that this historical event will be passed on to future generations.

Welcome figures are often grouped within the category of totem poles, but are distinct in form and function from the freestanding multiple-figure poles commonly associated with northern Northwest Coast People. The Coast Salish use welcome figures as markers to welcome people to their territories. They are often carved in a gesturing motion and faced in the direction of arriving guests. They may have arms outstretched in welcome or gratitude. They may also have a hand shading their eyes in a scouting manner, watching for arriving visitors.

The figure was carved with traditional regalia: A cedar hat, woven wool sash, and a cedar bark skirt. The significance of holding a paddle upward is a peace offering – welcoming everyone to the campus. Featured on the base are the Sea-to-Sky Guardians: Eagle, Bear, and Killer Whale. The figure honours and acknowledges the surrounding territories of the Sḵw wú7mesh Úxwumixw  (Squamish), səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkʷəyw̓əm (Musqueam), and kʷikʷəƛw̓əm (Kwikwetlem) Nations. These and many other First Nations continue to exercise their sovereignty and refuse conditions of disappearance despite various dispossessions, erasures, and displacements due to the colonization of these lands.

Additional Information - Welcome Figure 

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw - Squamish Nation:

The Squamish Nation is comprised of descendants of the Coast Salish Aboriginal peoples who lived in the present day Greater Vancouver area; Gibson’s landing and Squamish River watershed. The Squamish Nation have occupied and governed their territory since beyond recorded history.

"The Squamish culture is rich and resilient.  We continue to practice our customs and traditions, which are strongly interconnected with our traditional territory.  Together with our lands, our customs and traditions are the foundation of who we are as Skwxwú7mesh."

More info: http://www.squamish.net/about-us/our-culture/

Sources

Artist website: http://www.salishart.com/

McKenna, Cara. "SFU unveils Squamish welcoming figure at Burnaby campus" Metro Indigenous Stories: Metro News. 2017. Web.
http://www.metronews.ca/news/vancouver/2017/03/10/sfu-unveils-squamish-welcoming-figure-at-burnaby-campus.html

“Totem Poles”. The Bill Reid Centre for Northwest Coast Studies. Simon Fraser University. 2011. Web. http://www.sfu.ca/brc/art_architecture/totem_poles.html

Wong, Justin. "SFU honours local First Nations territories with hand-carved Welcome Figure" SFU News: Simon Fraser University. 2017. Web.
https://www.sfu.ca/sfunews/stories/2017/03/sfu-honours-local-first-nations-territories-with-hand-carved-welcome-figure.html