Artist: Phyllis Atkins
Location: Bear Creek Bridge (8448 King George Boulevard)
Category: Civic collection
Year Installed: 2019
About We Are All Connected to This Land
We Are All Connected to This Land is a contemporary Coast Salish artwork cut from powder-coated red aluminum and attached to the concrete barrier walls of the bridge spanning Bear Creek. The artist’s design features three salmon (male, female, and two-spirited), a sun, an eagle, a moon, and a wolf from left to right, mirrored on the other side.
Salmon are resilient creatures that make an arduous journey to return to their freshwater spawning grounds, such as Bear Creek, to give new life and sustain eagles, bears, wolves, and people.
The wolf represents the teacher and guide of the Kwantlen People while the eagle flying closest to the sun is carrying prayers to the Creator.
The inclusion of Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon contrast day and night and indicate the passage of time.
“From salmon to four-legged animals to winged creatures, I wanted to show how we are all connected to this land,” Atkins says. The title of her artwork also honours the relationship between səmyəmɑʔɬ (Semiahmoo), q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie) and q̓ʷɑ:n̓ƛ̓ən̓ (Kwantlen) to this shared and unceded traditional territory.
This design was recommended by a committee of Elders of the Katzie, Kwantlen, and Semiahmoo First Nations. This project is one of a series of initiatives by the City of Surrey to include visual representations of reconciliation on civic facilities and infrastructure.
About the Artist
q̓ʷɑt̓ic̓ɑ Phyllis Atkins, member of the Kwantlen First Nation, is an artist whose name means “I wear the clouds like a blanket” or “Shrouded in clouds.” Her name comes from the Nʼle7kepmxw language and it was given to her by her maternal grandfather Hereditary Chief Anthony Joe of the Shakan Band (Thompson River People.) The artist is also part Stó:lō (People of the River.)