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First Nations artist needed for North Shore Culture Compass project

Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations artist sought to create visual representations of important animals
Culture Compass
A group of people test out the new North Shore Culture Compass when it was officially launched last year. North Van Arts is seeking Indigenous artists who can help the online map better visualize the importance of local animals in First Nations culture.
North Vancouver’s arts council is hoping to find a local First Nations artist who can help highlight the importance of animals in Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh culture for the organization’s free online map that visualizes the North Shore’s rich cultural tapestry.

The North Shore Culture Compass launched last year. North Van Arts has put out a call for proposals for an artist to create visual representations of animals to be included in the online tool’s section highlighting fauna that are important to local First Nations history and culture.

The Culture Compass currently features hundreds of local points of cultural and historic significance encompassing 10 categories.

The map pinpoints North Shore cultural spaces and facilities, natural heritage locations, areas that contain public art, festivals and events, as well as places, stories and landmarks important to the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, including animals that have been a significant part of the culture for thousands of years.

“It was [the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations] idea to put the animal names and annunciation, but we didn’t have any images and we didn’t just want to take pictures or take images,” said Michelle Richard, North Van Arts spokeswoman. “We thought this was a great opportunity.”

While there’s currently no visual or artistic renderings of the animals on the map, listings on the Culture Compass for Indigenous points of interest and animals, such as bear, bee, dragonfly, eagle, hawk, hummingbird, killer whale, and otter, do include a name, description, phonetic pronunciation, and audio file featuring the Squamish pronunciation of the word read by Chamiya Janis Campbell.

“Those place names have been there for thousands of years and they continue to be known by those place names,” said Richard. “We’re hoping that it will help bolster that visual aspect of putting the First Nations face on this land. That was something that we heard when we were developing the Culture Compass.”

The selected artist will be expected to create visual representations of approximately 30 animals including birds, supernatural beings, and creatures who are in stories, who live in the North Shore mountains, who share the land on the traditional territory of the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, according to North Van Arts.

The North Shore Culture Compass was first spearheaded by North Van Arts in 2015. The project really took off following a $421,000 grant from the federal government’s strategic initiatives fund that was dished out in 2017.

While North Van Arts took the lead on mapping the region’s cultural assets, community partners included the District of North Vancouver, City of North Vancouver, District of West Vancouver, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, North Vancouver Recreation and Culture, and other local stakeholders.

Artists of Squamish and/or Tsleil-Waututh ancestry are encouraged to apply for the project by Jan. 31. An artist will be selected by Feb. 26.

Visit North Van Arts' website for more information on the call for proposals or to submit an application.

The North Shore Culture Compass can be accessed online year-round. Listings for facilities, events and more have been updated to reflect new hours and operating procedures due to the pandemic.