ALERT BAY—Carvings by five noted Kwakwaka’wakw artists, commemorating the five ‘Namgis First Ancestors, were unveiled last week during the third annual Celebration of Wild Salmon Walk along the shore of Cormorant Island.
Works by carvers Marcus Alfred, Shaun Karpes, Don Svanvik, Wayne Alfred and Kevin Cranmer were affixed to each of the five awak’was along the shorline boardwald.
The walk, which celebrates the continuation of the use of the life-sustaining salmon in ‘Namgis culture, began at the BC Ferries dock and followed the boardwalk along the coast toward the Big House.
As marchers moved along the boardwalk, many of them young children carrying painted salmon pictures affixed to sticks, they stopped at each awak’wa for an unveiling of an art piece and a short interpretive speech and dance by the artist.
Students from T’lisalagi’lakw School prepared for the walk by painting wooden salmon to use on the walk. Later, these salmon will be used as memorials as community members make monetary donations in memory of a loved one, with proceeds going to the schools Traditional Food Program. The loved one’s name will be put on the Memorial salmon and they will be brought out and placed in our Traditional territory by students throughout the school year.
The Traditional Food Program uses experts from our community to teach our students how to prepare and preserve many of our traditional foods, such as smoked pink, sockeye and dog salmon, as well as barbequing sockeye and dog salmon.
The walk ended at the ’Namgis Bighouse with lunch and students did the salmon dance followed by the five local artist who created the ancestors doing the peace dance and finishing off with Amlala – fun dances. Salmon for the lunch was prepared by Clifford Rosback,Rick Oyler, Kevin Cranmer, Edgar Cranmer and Byron Alfred.