I spend time at Deer Lake Park, pondering what it was like before my people
used the creek at the lake as a summer camp. As well, the considerations connected to
a place so sacred to my people, that we would merely borrow what we considered
necessary, and leave scarcely a trace for every following season for thousands of years.
Ancient tools crafted by my Musqueam relatives exclusively for preparing flora and
fauna to sustain us, are still there today; although anonymous beneath the soil.
Ancient families’ returning to a particular place every spring thaw means that it’s
an essential site. I am grateful that there was forethought in modern times to leave a
special place like this, to some degree unbroken, and available for enjoyment by
everybody today and for the future.
I urge everyone to spend time in the park at the lake, and close your ears from
the noises we hear every day. Imagine before natives used this place, and dream that
you are the first human being to come upon it. When I do, I can hear the frogs waking
up in a freshly thawed lake. I can see fish jumping in the distant background, feasting on
newly emerging creatures. Amongst the ancient tall firs and cedar trees, some 1000
years or older are tracks left by the deer, and moose. On a small sapling nearby, is a
butterfly resting in a sunbeam. I can feel the intense yellow eyes of a great-horned owl
studying me. Finally, I hear only the songbirds, and the gentle flow from a nearby
stream. Everywhere is green.
Today, I see tulips.
This design was carved in red cedar,
and then sand cast in ductile iron for
part of a public art installation in Deer
Lake Park, Burnaby, British Columbia
in 2010. One may discover deer,
salmon, frogs, birds, butterflies, tulips
and more within the image. The print
can also be framed as two separate