New banners flying in Fort Langley owe their design to a young Indigenous artist, and a partnership with the Fort Langley Community Association.
Atheana Picha is a Salish artist from the Kwantlen and Tsarlip First Nations. Her design shows intertwined wolves and salmon, and is based on Coast Salish teachings.
Wolves are seen as strong and caring, working to keep their family units together.
Picha said a story her mentor told her about a boy adopted by the wolf people inspired the design.
“One day he decided to go back to his home village, and he was welcomed back by his village and family with open arms,” Picha said. “The boy brought teachings from the wolves, hunting skills, and different knowledge of the territory. This story is meaningful to me because it makes me think of other indigenous people from Salish territory. We may grow up outside of our community, we may move away for education, or for a job, but no matter where we go- we will still have a place in our community.”
Picha’s successful banner was chosen by a committee made up of Kwantlen elders and representatives from the FLCA, from among four designs submitted by Kwantlen artists.
The new banners are part of a program that allows local community groups to hang them in neighbourhoods around the Township, said Andy Schildhorn, chair of the FLCA.
Right now there are more than 50 banners up around the Fort, of which 24 are the new Kwantlen banners designed by Picha.
Last fall, the FLCA reached out to the Kwantlen First Nation about a partnership, after having already worked with them on aspects of a Remembrance Day banners program a few years ago.
The banners rotate seasonally, four times a year.
Langley Township provided funding to several neighbourhood groups recently for banner programs around the community.
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