Swy-A-Lana with Bear and Eagle

Photo of the art James Johnny Sr., Swy-A-Lana with Bear and Eagle, 1985

Maffeo Sutton Park

This 2.6 metre tall, three-sided low relief carving is located near the Swy-A-Lana Lagoon Fishing Pier at Maffeo Sutton Park. Each of the three sides has a different carved image: an eagle, a bear, and a man named Swy-a-lana. Swy-A-Lana was the eldest son of the first man in Nanaimo. The Bear represents food and clothing to Swy-A-Lana and the Eagle represents his good luck protector and guardian.

This carving was commissioned by the City of Nanaimo for Maffeo Sutton Park to mark the bicentennial of the Spanish expedition to Vancouver Island in 1791. The sculpture was carved in a petroglyph style, according to Johnny, and he selected Haddington Island stone as his medium because it is a unique type of rock that contains both sandstone and limestone. The piece weighs over five tons and took the artist approximately 3 months to complete.

Mayor Graeme Roberts, MP Ted Schellenberg, and Bill White of Snuneymuxw First Nation unveiled the sculpture on July 30, 1985. White spoke of the history of the area and Elders sang welcome songs.

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