#6 Suzanne Fournier
First Published: April 09th, 2015
In Shore to Shore: The Art of Ts’uts’umutl Luke Marston, Suzanne Fournier profiles First Nations artist, Luke Marston, who created the sculpture at Brockton Point (at left), and describes his journey to Portugal to research the work. The title “Shore to Shore” references Marston’s great-great-grandfather, Portuguese Joe Silvey, who sailed from the Azores Islands of Portugal to the West Coast of Canada in the mid-1800s.
Silvey and his mixed race family lived at Brockton Point, where the Coast Salish had lived for millennia. The carving equally commemorates Silvey’s two First Nations wives, therefore paying tribute to the largely unwritten history of mixed-culture families in Coastal B.C.
Silvey’s first wife, Khaltinaht, was a Musqueam and Squamish noblewoman who died tragically early of TB. Silvey’s second wife, Kwatleematt (Lucy), was a Sechelt First Nation matriarch who was Marston’s great-great-grandmother.
Lucy raised eleven children to adulthood and her second eldest child, Elizabeth, was the first registered birth of the child of white/aboriginal parents.
The sculpture rests on a 2.5-foothigh base of black-and-white Portuguese mosaic stone. It also includes images of seine nets, whaling harpoons and Pacific coast salmon.
According to Fournier, the three First Nations who claim the park as unceded Coast Salish territory [Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh] were consulted closely throughout the project. Fournier accompanied Marston to his ancestors’ village on the Azores where Portuguese Joe Silvey was raised to be a whaler. A celebratory feast was held at the Musqueam Cultural Centre on the same day as the formal unveiling on April 25, 2015.
The (approximately) $1 million project had to be funded by the community. It received one federal Legacies grant, which had to be matched. The Portuguese-Canadian community raised more than $300,000, and finally, just months from the unveiling date, Vancouver city council, Parks Board and the three First Nations contributed some financial support.
The Shore to Shore statue has a literary heritage beyond Suzanne Fourier’s book. Jean Barman uncovered the histories of Joe Silvey and the mixed-raced families of Stanley Park in two books, The Remarkable Adventures of Portuguese Joe Silvey (Harbour 2004) and Stanley Park’s Secret: Forgotten Families of Whoi Whoi, Kanaka Ranch, and Brockton Point (Harbour, 2005).
Barman also highlighted mixed-race B.C. families with Hawaiian origins in Leaving Paradise: Indigenous Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest, 1787-1898 (University of Hawaii Press, 2006) and Maria Mahoi of the Islands (New Star, 2004).
Hence this statue that celebrates the amalgamations of racial backgrounds symbolizes both the progressive devolution of “British” Columbia and its evolution as a self-aware multi-racial construct.
“History is usually written by the winners,” Jean Barman wrote in 2003. “Their lives comprise the archival collections, and historically these have been white men enjoying political and economic privilege. So long as we rely on the materials at hand, we keep telling the same old stories.”
Suzanne Fournier is a journalist who has been working and writing about First Nations topics for over forty years. She divides her time between Galiano Island and Vancouver.
Ernie Crey and Suzanne Fournier examined the devastating impact of large scale efforts to assimilate Indians (as they were called) into mainstream Canadian society in Stolen from our Embrace: The Abduction of First Nations Children and the Rebuilding of Aboriginal Communities (D&M 1997 $29.95) for which they received the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize 1998.
Crey was the executive director of the fisheries program for the Sto:lo Nation and a former president of the United Native Nations. He had also worked as a social worker on behalf of aboriginal families. “As a child, I was forcibly removed from Sto:lo culture by social welfare authorities,” he recalled. “Our family life was shattered after my eight siblings and I were split apart into separate foster homes. We were never again to reunite as a family. In so many ways, the history of my family is the history of aboriginal children in Canada.”
Review of the author’s work by <i>BC Studies</i>:
<a href=” http://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/bcstudies/article/view/1521/1564″>Stolen from Our Embrace: The Abduction of First Nations Children and the Restoration of Aboriginal Communities</a>
Fournier, Suzanne, & Ernie Crey. (1997). Stolen From Our Embrace: The Abduction of First Nations Children and the Restoration of Aboriginal Communities (Douglas and McIntyre, 1997)
Shore to Shore: The Work of Luke Tsu ts’u mult Marston (Harbour 2014) $26.95 978-1-55017-670-4