From the Azores to Brockton Point
One of the first pieces of Coast Salish art in Stanley Park is celebrated by Suzanne Fournier's Shore to Shore: The Art of Ts’uts’umutl Luke Marston (Harbour $26.95).
April 06th, 2015
As well, she profiles First Nations artist, Luke Marston, who created the monumental bronze sculpture.
Suzanne Fournier is a journalist who has been working and writing about First Nations topics for over forty years. Five of those years have been spent recording the creation of a new monument for Stanley Park.
The title of the piece, “Shore to Shore,” references Marston’s ancestor, Portuguese Joe Silvey, who sailed from the Azores Islands of Portugal to the West Coast of Canada in the mid-1800s. The sculpture equally honours Marston’s First Nations heritage as well as the largely unwritten history of mixed-culture families in Coastal B.C.
In late September of 2014, with minimal fanfare, Marston’s 14-foot bronze-cast cedar sculpture Shore to Shore was erected in Stanley Park under the watchful eyes of Coast Salish First Nations leaders and representatives from the Azores Islands. Then it was covered, awaiting a larger ceremony in April of 2015, to include more dignitaries and relatives.
The carving, commemorating Marston’s great-great-grandparents, Portuguese Joe Silvey, Kwatleematt (Lucy), a Sechelt First Nation matriarch (Marston’s great-great-grandmother) and Silvey’s first wife, Khaltinaht, a Musqueam and Squamish noblewoman, is surrounded by seine nets, whaling harpoons and Pacific coast salmon and embodies BC’s history of multicultural relationships, while highlighting one of Canada’s finest contemporary First Nations carvers.
Shore to Shore The Art of Ts’uts’umutl Luke Marston also documents the five-year process to have the bronze statue installed in Stanley Park, including Fournier’s journey with Marston to visit his ancestors’ village on the Azores where Portuguese Joe Silvey was raised to be a whaler. Kwatleematt was a Sechelt woman with whom Silvey raised 11 children to adulthood. The two eldest children were daughters, Josephine and Elizabeth (the first registered birth of the child of white/aboriginal parents), who were born to Silvey’s first wife Khaltinaht, a high-born Musqueam woman who died tragically early of TB. Silvey and his family lived at Brockton Point, where the Coast Salish had lived for millennia.
The sculpture rests on a 2.5-foot base of black-and-white Portuguese mosaic stone. After public unveiling ceremony at Brockton Point on Saturday, April 25 at 2 pm, a celebratory feast at the Musqueam Cultural Centre will follow. According to Fournier, the three First Nations who claim the park as unceded Coast Salish territory [Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh] were consulted closely throughout the project.
“Along with Susan Point’s house portals and the Squamish Albert Yelton Pole,” says Fournier, “Shore to Shore establishes the rightful place of the Coast Salish in Stanley Park, at a site which 9.5 million people visit each year, but one which has until recently displayed only northern-style totem poles.”
The (approximately) $1 million project had to be funded by the community. It received one federal Legacies grant, which had to be matched. The Portuguese-Canadian community raised more than $300,000, and finally, just months from the unveiling date, Vancouver city council, Parks Board and the three First Nations contributed some financial support. More information about Portuguese Joe and his family can be found in Jean Barman’s The Remarkable Adventures of Portuguese Joe Silvey (Madeira Park: Harbour, 2004).
Previously Province journalist Suzanne Fournier and Ernie Crey examined the devastating impact of large scale efforts to assimilate Indians (as they were known) into mainstream Canadian society for Stolen from our Embrace: The Abduction of First Nations Children and the Rebuilding of Aboriginal Communities (D&M 1997 $29.95). It won the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize in 1998.
Crey was the executive director of the fisheries program for the Sto:lo Nation and a former president of the United Native Nations. He had also worked as a social worker on behalf of aboriginal families. “As a child, I was forcibly removed from Sto:lo culture by social welfare authorities,” he recalled. “Our family life was shattered after my eight siblings and I were split apart into separate foster homes. We were never again to reunite as a family. In so many ways, the history of my family is the history of aboriginal children in Canada.”
Review of the author’s work by <i>BC Studies</i>:
<a href=” http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/bcstudies/article/view/1521/1564″>Stolen from Our Embrace: The Abduction of First Nations Children and the Restoration of Aboriginal Communities</a>
Fournier, Suzanne, & Ernie Crey. (1997). Stolen From Our Embrace: The Abduction of First Nations Children and the Restoration of Aboriginal Communities (Douglas and McIntyre, 1997)
Shore to Shore: The Work of Luke Tsu ts’u mult Marston (Harbour 2014) $26.95 978-1-55017-670-4