Tour showcases Richmond’s Indigenous public art

Musqueam artist Jim Kew will be leading the tour as part of Richmond’s Culture Days.

A Musqueam elder is looking forward to sharing stories about his people’s art and culture when he guides a tour of Richmond’s Indigenous public art on Saturday.

The free tour will see two busloads of people shepherded around the city with commentary by Jim Kew, Musqueam name kwes’kwestin, as part of Culture Days.

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“Six years before I was born, the potlach ban was repealed. So information that I’ll be sharing on the tour would have put my parents or grandparents in jail,” he told the Richmond News.

Jim Kew
Jim Kew, whose Musqueam name is kwes'kwestin, is leading a tour of Indigenous public art as part of Richmond's Culture Days. Photo: Submitted

Kew is a business owner and cultural representative for Musqueam who has previously worked as an archeological technician, a band councillor and an artist. He told the News he used to carve pieces of silver jewelry and spent several years working in the late Bill Reid’s studio. 

“The canoe at YVR was created from the clay and plasters that I worked on in Bill’s shop,” he said.

One of the stops on the tour will be the Richmond Oval, to see the Buttress Runnels by Musqueam artist Susan Point. Kew says he loves that Point included the great blue heron, or “smokwah” in henqeminum. According to stories, smokwah was once a man who was reincarnated as a heron as a reward for his hard work.

“He represents values of industry and family in our culture,” Kew said.

Buttress Runnels
A close-up of the Buttress Runnels by Musqueam artist Susan Point. Photo: Submitted

Biliana Velkova, Richmond’s public art planner, says she’s excited to expose the city’s “rich and diverse” Indigenous public art collection to a wider audience.

The tour will begin at the Richmond Cultural Centre with late Tsimshian artist Victor Reese’s Soo-Gee-Ghet totem pole. Other stops include:

  • The Richmond Oval for Fish Trap Way by Susan Point and son Thomas Cannell
  • Sonny Assu’s Authentic Aboriginal inside the Richmond Oval
  • Hupakwanum: The Chief's Treasure Box by Patrick Amos, Tim Paul, Tom Paul and Rodney Sayers
  • Rebecca Belmore’s Upriver at the Oval Village
  • Capstan Village for a piece by Vancouver-based Haida artist Raymond Boisjoly 
  • Terra Nova park for Ravens Bench by Thomas Cannell

Velkova was also impressed with the tour’s popularity. The two buses filled up quickly and registration for the free tour is now closed. But, she added, the city has brochures available for self-guided tours

 Kew called it “a wonderful thing” for people to share their values and identity as part of Culture Days in Richmond and beyond.

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