A new mural that hangs in the commons area at BCSS was given a blessing ceremony on Jan. 21. Students and teachers were joined by elders, special guests and staff from the school board office for the event.
Aboriginal support worker Marilyn Hanson welcomed everyone to the ceremony and began by offering tobacco to the drum in gratitude for its voice.
The tile mural was the work of the BCSS Senior Arts class under Sarah Tripp and Rock Creek’s Terry Jackson who was contracted through a non-profit group called ArtStarts, which has a long history of bringing professional artists into classrooms across B.C. The local school district also provided funding through the Aboriginal Education budget.
Drummers played the Morning Song, giving thanks for another beautiful day and also asking the Great Spirit to weave the garment of brightness so that we will walk where the birds sing.
Hanson explained that in Aboriginal culture something new is blessed so that it might fulfill it’s intended purpose. “We are hoping from this is that when you see this mural you will acknowledge that culture enriches our lives,” she said. “That you think about how we respect culture and what it means in your lives.”
Jackson shared the meaning of parts of the mural and the intention behind it.
The mural shows a thunderbird rising into the air above a killer whale. “The idea of the thunderbird being the messenger of the Creator and overcoming the darkness of the whale and the undersea world,” explained Jackson.
He said that in northwest Native art, the thunderbird typically represented the messenger from the Creator and was a sacred creature from the sky world and the mountains.
“Thunderbird represents that the Creator is much bigger than the whole scene that we see. It’s bigger than the world of darkness. When you see them together the thunderbird is always overcoming the whale. “The whale represents those parts of our personality—the instinctual parts of our personality that don’t have consciousness. “Some call it the reptilian part of ourselves,” explained Jackson.
“We are just going by the instincts there is not any kind of illumination or consciousness to what we are doing.”
He said it’s hoped that as people walk past the mural they’ll receive direction and hope in their lives and that it will stimulate something positive.
“The mural shows that the Creator is available to all of us,” said Jackson. “It is a connection we can have in our heart if we want to know more about the Creator—just by being real, by being truthful to ourselves and truthful to others—establish a healthy relationship that will bear fruit.”
He stressed that the mural is the work of not only himself, but of the entire class and expressed the hope that the students had benefited from using their talents and skills to serve others in their community.