When designing this painting I was living in the Kootenays, feeling so far and lonesome, far from my family, my home. To make matters worse, I was preparing to travel even further away from my home.
I was invited to the United Arab Emirates for three and a half weeks to accompany 28 other women artists from around the world. We were to spend 10 days together exhibiting artwork from our homelands.
This painting I did before leaving for my trip. I thought about one summer, long before I moved to Victoria. I took a summer job with two other community members working with three archaeologists at the original village site of the Nimpkish River. We spent five days over at our site working throughout the day and then boating back to Alert Bay for the weekend. We did this for two glorious months.
It was amazing to live by the river, hearing and seeing the Nimpkish Sockeye returning. The energy at the old village site was very much alive. We would hear voices of children playing and conversations in our language while in a half-sleep during a noon nap. At night, to protect our makeshift kitchen from the bears we created an alarm of hanging pots and pans to alert us to our visitors. Noises and voices of passengers in a canoe that wasn’t there echoed in the night. The experience was and is unforgettable.
Of the many experiences I have had throughout my life thus far, this was the experience I thought about while most in the Kootenays. How I longed to be back home; this painting is representative of that time in my life. The spirit of the ancestors is depicted in the painting of the bear, The Great Bear, and the salmon that return to the river Gwani (Nimkish River). It is an honoring of that time, that place, and the people with whom I shared this extraordinary experience with.