Nanaimo Public Art Inventory - Portal to Our Heritage - Departure Bay

Photo of the art
Artist: Jim (J.J.) Johnny - Nootka Indian Band, James Johnny (Son of Jim (J.J.) Johnny)
Location: Kin Park, Departure Bay Beach
Category: Portal, Totem
Year Created: 2008
Materials: Red Cedar, Paint
Sponsors: Cultural Capitals of Canada
Cost: N/A
Status: Public


The "Portal to our Heritage" is a legacy project of Nanaimo's designation as a Cultural Capital of Canada, 2008, by the Government of Canada, Department of Canadian Heritage, The City of Nanaimo and Snuneymuxw First Nation who worked together to create this portal which represents the significance of this traditional site of the Snuneymuxw people. The two eagles, which are Coast Salish, are universal in all First Nation Cultures and represent strength and wisdom. It is our belief that eagles are the protectors of the land. They were chosen to be part of the poles as protectors of the land in Departure Bay and to welcome all visitors to Snuneymuxw First Nation traditional territory. Back in time, when visitors from other Nations arrived in canoes they would never land without first asking for permission. The two whales that are on the crosspiece of the poles represent good luck and they also protect and guide canoes from shore to shore. The whale is the family crest and the dance of one of the carvers- James Jay Johnny, son of Allan Gordon James Johnny. Today this portal stands representing Snuneymuxw history of the traditional land of the Snuneymuxw people. The portal was carved out of a 40 foot section of a western red cedar tree from northern Vancouver Island.


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