The sculpture Tsawalk, created to promote diversity and connection, now has a permanent home on Vancouver Island University’s campus thanks to a generous donation from the Nanaimo Port Authority.
The authority donated $5,000 to assist in mounting the piece on the wall next to the university’s bookstore, with a plaque explaining the artist’s intentions.
Tsawalk was created by VIU graphic design graduate Laura Timmermans. She was inspired to create the sculpture after reading Richard Atleo’s book Tsawalk.
“The book talks about the Nuu-Chah-nulth First Nation’s philosophy of Heshook-ish Tsawalk, which means all things are connected,” said Timmermans in a press release. “The piece celebrates our coastal lifestyle, unique environment and our interdependency with all things.”
The sculpture was created as part of the City of Nanaimo’s Temporary Public Art program in the spring of 2015.
The artwork creates a lasting legacy for the university and supports one of the institutions core values of creating an inclusive learning environment where indigenous learners see themselves represented said Ralph Nilson, VIU president and vice-chancellor in a press release.
“The timing of this instillation allows us to recognize the significance and import of the report from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which calls upon all Canadians to find ways to rebuild the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous people, working together towards reconciliation,” said Nilson.
Jeet Manhas, chairman of the Nanaimo Port Authority, said in a press release, the organization is excited to support the university and its graphic design program.
“Laura Timmerman’s Tsawalk art work is truly inspiring and highlights the need for all island communities to work in harmony and to respect our surroundings,” said Manhas. “The Nanaimo Port Authority is a proud partner with VIU on this initiative.”