This Exhibit at the Gage Gallery on Oak Bay Avenue is open until Saturday July 15th. All the artists have created personal tributes to the Canada’s Anniversary with particular reference to the First Nations. Each of the exhibits carries a description of the painting and its inspiration. Inspired by the words of First Nations Artist Alex Janvier, this painting is a dedication to those who were ‘Here Before’.
Within the ocean’s currents and mountains, there are elements that calm my spirit. The arbutus outside our window is a haven for hummingbirds, which sometimes come by to flutter beneath my chin as I do T’ai Chi in the mornings. I feel air tremble from the beating of their wings.
In this painting I have included the features of James Squameyugs, Chief of the Songhees Nation from a photo taken in 1866.
‘The Douglas Treaty signed by Chief Squameyugs did not protect his people from colonial efforts to remove them from their village at Songhees Point, Victoria in 1858 and 1874. Chief Squameyugs vowed never to be carried alive from his home and it was not until a decade after his death that the relocation was carried out, under the guise of a celebration.
Chief Squameyugs and the Songhees people did not benefit from the massive profits made from the subdivision and selling of their land. Nor did the Snuneymuxw people at Nanaimo receive any benefits from their coal rich land despite being promised by the colonists: “The good Queen, our great white chief, far over the water, will look after your people for all time, and they will be given much money so that they will never be poor” Douglas Treaty (Snuneymuxw First Nation).’
Ref. First Nations Land Rights & Environmentalism in British Columbia
‘Here Before’ Acrylic on Canvas, 2017 by Gillian Redwood