New Westminster, B.C. – June 7, 2019 – On May 31, UFCW Canada Local 1518 celebrated the inauguration of “Salmon Arrows,” a newly installed mural at the union’s headquarters in New Westminster, British Columbia. Commissioned in early 2019, the mural serves as an acknowledgement that the union’s office is located on the unceded territory of the Qayqayt First Nation and demonstrates the Local’s commitment to Reconciliation.
“We are delighted to present this project to UFCW 1518 members and the city of New Westminster,” said President Kim Novak. “Through this artwork, we acknowledge the history of this land and our connection to the Fraser River. It is a small but meaningful step toward Reconciliation.”
“Salmon Arrows” depicts sockeye salmon swimming up the river with arrows representing the ancient instinct of salmon species to migrate to the ocean and back to the water systems of which they were hatched. The mural was designed and installed by Ronnie Dean Harris, a Stō:lo/St’át’imc/Nlaka’pamux multimedia artist and community organizer based in Langley, B.C. “Salmon is a keystone species. Without wild salmon the ecosystems and the rivers would begin to collapse,” commented Ronnie.
The mural’s unveiling ceremony this Friday was well attended. Chief Rhonda Larrabee from the Qayqayt First Nation opened the ceremony with a land acknowledgement and traditional welcome. In attendance were UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak, Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson, and the Local Union’s Executive Board. At the ceremony, New Westminster Member of Parliament Peter Julian presented the 1518 leaders and Executive Board with an award recognizing the Local’s work in moving toward Reconciliation.
Other distinguished guests included B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy and New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote, who spoke to the crowd about the city’s collaboration with UFCW 1518 on this project. “Public art plays an important role in our community to tell stories and to help talk about our culture,” said Mayor Cote. “Being the oldest city in Western Canada, we are going to need to have some important and difficult conversations, but to me this is an important way to help tell the story of this land.”
UFCW Canada Local 1518 represents 22,000 members working in the community health, retail, industrial, and professional sectors across British Columbia. To learn more about UFCW 1518 and its outstanding work, visit the Local Union’s website.