The traditional territories of the Lekwungen peoples include the Ogden Point breakwater. The Elders tell us there were major village sites along the shoreline extending to Clover Point.
Lekwungen teachings, passed down from ancestors, describe people as being caretakers of the land and ocean. Traditional stewardship focused on resources, and ancestral wisdom gave us knowledge of each species, when to harvest and when to conserve. Stories associated with each species were taught to the young so they would gain the respect that is essential to all life on earth.
The wolf design represents both the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations and symbolizes family unity. Our ancestors' spirits live on in those who bring dignity and nobility through honesty, generosity and respect. The faces looking at you are those who have passed on. They continue to share the wisdom denied to us in the past. Though some customs have been forgotten, our close connection to family lets us share what is remembered.
These First Nations leaders are dedicated to the service of others. The Honourable Steven L. Point became British Columbia's 28th Lieutenant Governor in 2007, the first Native person to achieve this honour. Phil Fontaine is a member of the Sagkeeng Nation in Manitoba. He worked to increase awareness of the needs of First Nations people. Chief Andy Thomas of the Esquimalt Nation and Chief Robert Sam of the Songhees Nation conceived the mural concept. These leaders exemplify the importance of serving humanity and upholding traditional values and teachings.
The design progression portrays a legend common to many cultures along the coast. The illustrations show the Killer Whale transforming into the mythical Sea Wolf. A pod or pack of Sea Wolves is said to have gone in many directions, establishing villages along their way. This is the reason the Wolf mask is so prominent in Coast Salish culture.
The Cougar represents the guardian, the gatekeeper between the spirit world and the living. It is said that if one sees or hears a Cougar, then someone from the spirit world is trying to communicate. If your body and spirit are healthy and strong you should pay heed; the gatekeeper has allowed you to receive a message. Often times a hunter would yield a fallen prey to a cougar, thus paying respect to the gatekeeper.
An Elder related this story about Salmon, in particular the chum salmon, during spawning. When it reaches the end of its journey to the spawning ground, Salmon’s skin changes from silver to many colours. These colours are like the regalia of our people as we prepare for important occasions.
Deer meat or venison was a huge part of our diet for many thousands of years. Running Deer was created out of respect for the hunters who provide this healthy meat for our people.
Codfish, Red Snapper and Black Bass were in abundance in this vicinity and available almost year round except during spawning.
Two men were harpooning seals just off Harling Point in Victoria. Hylas, with his friends Mink and Raven, went to investigate. Being very curious, they got a little too close. One man became agitated and raised his spear to throw at them. The man was immediately turned to stone; he is now known as the ruler over all the seals of the west coast. You can see the stone today on the beach at Harling Point.
The Octopus or Devilfish is said to be a dark creature that lurks in the sea where people should not go. Elders teach youngsters not to go near places where the Octopus dwells for fear that they will come to own you.
Sea urchins, sometimes called sea eggs, are considered a great delicacy amongst our people and are eaten raw.
In October 2008, my father lay dying of cancer in a Victoria hospital. Across from his room lay Jacob Bighorn from the Lakota tribe, a man of strong spiritual beliefs and Native Baha'i. Jacob often told those for whom he cared "if you live a life of service to your people, the eagles will come to guide your spirit when it's time to leave this earth." One morning, as my mother headed to the hospital, she noticed dozens of bald eagles flying across the water and over the highway. We too, on our way to Victoria, noticed many eagles circling the hospital. When we arrived, my father told us Jacob had passed on. Many people called the hospital asking if a Holy man had passed away.
The wolf pack symbolizes strong family ties, togetherness, security and loyalty.
Halibut was an important traditional staple food. Like other species, it would be dried and saved. Halibut was once a normal fish until it ran across the path of Kaals, the Creator. Kaals changed Halibut into a flat fish, as we see it today.
Spindle whorls, still used to today, were used to spin wool from goat and dog hair. In traditional times, little white dogs were kept in small herds on an island. Little is known of the origin of these dogs; they became extinct shortly after contact with Europeans. A few sketches show weavers making blankets, a white dog by their side. The blankets created from goat and dog wool were warm and beautiful.
The Sea Serpent depicted is the artist's vision of a creature talked about by ancestors and elders. There were two kinds of creatures in this family: one that spiralled through the water and one that swam straight. The Sea Serpent is regarded as a very sacred creature.
Long ago, before people and tribes, lived Raven. She had bright white feathers and pink eyes that glowed with pride, even at night. One day, she noticed how bright the sun looked, shining up in the sky, stealing her thunder. She decided to swallow the sun, hoping she would become as bright and beautiful. Her stomach burned with heat, and eventually she spat it out, leaving her black as ashes and night. No more did she shine with light, a punishment for allowing vanity to get in the way of her purpose of preparing the way for humanity. Although rare, white ravens can still be seen on our Island today.
The Harbour Seal was also known as the mermaid, because it has visible arms and legs. In the story of the Seal, it was transformed from human to fish. When this metamorphosis was complete, Kaals, the Creator, tied the feet together to make it a fish.
It is believed the Sand Hill Crane is the symbol of a woman's helper. Starting at a young age, women worked very hard to clothe, feed and care for the tribe. This taught discipline and built character. The Sand Hill Crane is a symbol of feminine strength and endurance. The birds used to feed on seafood along Victoria's shores during migration. Though they never nested here, each year these visitors brought a renewed sense of ambition to the women clamming on the beaches.
Butch Dick designed the images representing the Sea theme for the mural.
Darlene Gait designed the images representing the Land theme as well as the overall concept of how the Land & Sea images would flow together.