North Arm


Part of the Blue Heron Series – 3 serigraphs

Ink on Paper

32’’ x 12.75’’

Artist/Curatorial Statement

The artwork for these three limited edition serigraphs, Blue Heron Series: Canoe Pass (2011), North Arm (2011) and Iona Beach (2012), is based on a public art commission for the 2010 Olympic skating oval in Richmond BC. These are further explorations of the design that is incorporated into the structural buttresses that support the building.

The imagery in the artwork reflects the ever-changing Fraser River. Incorporated within the delta theme are heron motifs. The contours are revealed by salmon motifs in the foreground. Richmond has chosen the heron as its ambassador; herons have chosen the delta as their home for countless generations.

Canoe Pass is the name for the middle arm, which separated Lulu Island from Sea Island.

North Arm is the waterway that separates Vancouver from Richmond BC.

Iona Beach is a regional park in Richmond BC.

Canoe Pass and North Arm

Flying between Vancouver Island and Richmond, I always have a great view of the river delta below between Point Grey and Steveston. This is an area to which my Musqueam culture has been deeply connected for thousands of years. What I see are sandbars and these change by re-braiding from season to season with the currents and the tides; this all reflects on the time of year and is an important consideration in my culture that gathered food all summer for the long cold winter. Above and below a tree, the branches and roots very closely resemble each other, both reach out for their piece of earth, both intertwine within their own space; this is what the creeks and ditches resemble while I watch intently from above.

This pattern is very common in nature; paths often lead from one place or wind up in the same. This is true in geography, waterways and human society.

Iona Beach

The main theme of this artwork is the Fraser River… how the river changes through time… its shape and course. It subtly shows how the river re-braids itself; it is also a dedication to the Fraser River on whose shores my people have lived and prospered, in seasonal settlements, for countless generations. The Fraser River has always had economic, social and spiritual meaning to the Coast Salish peoples and it allowed the aboriginal peoples of the coast to trade with the peoples of the interior of BC. During my Salish ancestor’s time, the Fraser River was used as a route for trading as well as family gatherings…keeping their connection to other Salish groups along the river. The river itself is revered as ‘the giver of life’ and the ‘essence of life’ as well as one of the four elements.

I have also emphasized the heron. There are many legends of the heron as told by my elders; the heron is a prominent bird figure that shows up in traditional Salish implements.

The final element in my design depicts contemporary salmon, which, symbolically, represents the delta. Historically, salmon was a form of wealth, sustenance for our peoples and used in trade with other tribes. Native images are more than stylized symbols of animals… each character has its own traits and history; thus, salmon represents the giver of life and is usually carved in pairs for good luck.

Susan Point

Display(s): Places of British Columbia

Legacy: Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia