Nanaimo Public Art Inventory - Sque-em

Sque-em

Photo of the art
Artist: William Good - Snuneymuxw
Location: Located in Gallery Row in Maffeo Sutton Park.
Category: Carving, Painting
Year Created: 2016
Materials: Acrylic Paint, Yellow Cedar
Sponsors: N/A
Cost: N/A
Status: Public

Description

The following is the documentation of the Sque-em History, as carved and told by William Good, and written by his daughter, Aunalee Boyd-Good. The panel itself is a written story, carved as an example of Coast Salish Art as a written Visual Language. It is carved out of Red Cedar, which is the most sacred wood to the Snuneymuxw people.
Sque-em was one of the First Peoples’ of Snuneymuxw who was placed here by God, “Ha-les”, The creator. He built his first longhouse at the Swa-a-Lana Lagoon, in what is now called Spirit Park (formerly the Civic Arena). There are welcome figures on the front of the longhouse, and they are Sque-em and his wife. The canoe is carved in the Traditional Snuneymuxw style with an abstract wolf head that represents the complexity of the abstractions in Traditional Coast Salish Art.


Sque-em made his first canoe and sent his Grandson out into the Harbour in it. When his Grandson paddled, he did not know how to hold the paddle correctly and the paddle was sideways in the water. As he paddled, the ripples in the water became the first flounders, fish that were cherished by our late Elders and Ancestors. As his Grandson paddled harder, the first halibuts were created in the water out of the ripples. As he turned his paddle and began to paddle properly, the first salmon were created out of the ripples. As Sque-em’s Grandson continued to paddle harder, the larger fish were created by the ripples, such as the cod. As he paddled late into the night on his canoe, the sparkles of the phosphorous in the water became the two species of herring in the water, one (the most delicious), of which is now extinct. It was night time and the moon was shining down on Sque-em and sparkling on the water. The moon in the panel is smiling, along with the other characters, out of happiness because of the arrival of fish, the life source of the Coast Salish People. The beach is bright grey, as it depicts a time before Coal Mining in Nanaimo when the beaches were beautiful with white sand and pebbles. In the background is a semi-abstract form of Mt. Tutuxtun (Mt. Benson), which was the Good family’s sacred Mountain where they carried out private ceremonies and received messages from God.

Copyright William Good 2016

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