News

Unity Wall murals receive a First Nation’s blessing

Linda Modeste, right, and daughter-in-law Marilyn Olsen perform a ceremony with cedar boughs to bless the Ogden Point breakwater and the third phase of murals that have been placed on the sides of the breakwater. - Don Denton/News staff
Linda Modeste, right, and daughter-in-law Marilyn Olsen perform a ceremony with cedar boughs to bless the Ogden Point breakwater and the third phase of murals that have been placed on the sides of the breakwater.
— image credit: Don Denton/News staff

The cries of the seagulls overhead were joined by chanting and the swish of cedar boughs during a series of ceremonies held Tuesday afternoon to bless the third phase of native murals attached to the Unity Wall at the Ogden Point breakwater.

Linda Modeste and daughter-in-law Marilyn Olsen conducted the traditional blessing on the breakwater while at the same time on shore, Mary Anne Thomas and Elmer George were blessing the interpretive panels for the murals.

The phase three murals illustrate the significance and signing of the Douglas Treaties, founding of Victoria and the establishment of Esquimalt. The art examines the interactions between First Nations and settlers and how that interaction created Victoria.

The blessing ceremony and dancing and singing from the Esquimalt Singers and Dancers was followed by speeches from a variety of tribal and political dignitaries, including Esquimalt Chief Andy Thomas and Songhees Chief Ron Sam.

Young artist Brianna Dick was one of several who worked on the murals. She told the crowd telling them how the project had brought back her passion for art, a passion she’d felt she lost due to other circumstances in her life.

Dick also said she hoped that people viewing the murals would ask questions about the images, queries that would lead to understanding about the events and issues depicted.

The final event of the afternoon was a traditional food burning ceremony that honours and cares for ancestors of the First Nations’ traditional lands.  A “table” of firewood and a variety of food was set up for that ceremony.

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