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 pieces.
Coast Salish (Musqueam)
Thomas Cannell is a young Coast Salish artist who was born on Musqueam traditional territory in 1980. He has spent his whole life on the Musqueam Reserve in Vancouver, BC, and has been immersed in the long-established art and cultural traditions of his Musqueam ancestors.
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