The Canada 150 creative works of Coast Salish artist John Martson and Ladysmith’s next generation are now hanging together along First Avenue, symbolically representing a partnership between the town and Stz’uminus as they work toward the future.
Street banners by Marston and Ladysmith Secondary School (LSS) Grade 9 students Kendra Forester and Eve Lovett were officially unveiled in the Stz’uminus First Nation council chamber last Thursday afternoon.
“I was really honoured to find out that the students, our flags were going to be flying side by side,” Marston said.
“I’m working at the school right now so it makes me understand just how much work is being done within our community to repair the past and to look to a better future.”
Forester and Lovett created their banner as part of an art class project in first semester. The maple leaf represents Canada and the 13 provinces and territories while the fields they incorporated at the top and bottom of the design are for the First Nations who have lived here for thousands of years.
“It probably took us a couple weeks,” said Lovett, who sketched the original idea and was aided by her good friend. “It just came together really, really nicely.”
Forester thought the banners would go up downtown after the unveiling but was surprised when she came out of kick boxing class early this week only to see them already hanging.
“I like the entire thing. I just think it looks really great,” she said, sharing a laugh with Lovett. “I’d probably like to do something in the artistic field (in the future).”
Marston said his banner shows an eagle for the strength of working together as well as heritage and importance of traditions. The salmon represents the First Nations culture and the connection to the natural world.
“Every time we get the ability to make connections like we have, even if it’s with artwork, it’s another step forward to creating positive conversations and positive outcomes,” he said.
All three artists were presented with a copy of the street banners from Mayor Aaron Stone, Chief John Elliott and members of the Canada 150 committee which includes representatives from both communities.
Stone said the banners exemplify the Canada we aspire to be and is another “great, proud symbol of the work” being done locally.
“The work that we’re doing between our communities is really for our future generations,” Stone said. “Canada 150, because of our close relationship with Stz’uminus, I think for people in Ladysmith is very different. I’m looking forward to doing work today that impacts the next 150 years more than I’m celebrating the past.”