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Musqueam art helps bring in the Lunar New Year at Jack Poole Plaza

Lantern
Indigenous artists' work is showcased in the Coastal Lunar Lanterns exhibition at Jack Poole Plaza

Shortly before a global pandemic shook the world, there was a charming Lunar New Year display at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver. LunarFest Vancouver unveiled its first annual Coastal Lunar Lanterns exhibition, featuring Indigenous designs on huge cylinders near Coal Harbour.

That year, LunarFest Vancouver featured the works of Musqueam artist Thomas Cannell, Tsleil-Waututh artist Zachary George, and Stó:lō Nation artist Carrielynn Victor.

The next year, Cannell provided another design for a Lunar New Year lantern at Jack Poole Plaza, as did his sister Kelly, mother Susan Point, and Point’s granddaughter Summer. These pieces appeared alongside four lanterns created by a Taiwanese Indigenous family, the Pavavaljungs from the Paiwan tribe in Taiwan.

In 2024, Musqueam artwork is again featured in the Coastal Lunar Lanterns exhibition at Jack Poole Plaza. Furthermore, it appears alongside the work of a Taiwanese Indigenous artist, Ali Istanda. She belongs to the Bunun tribe.

Jack Poole Plaza
Untitled by Debra Sparrow and Isaiah Sparrow. Image courtesy of The Lantern City.

Musqueam artist Debra Sparrow and her nephew, Isaiah Sparrow, designed the untitled piece for the Big Print Steveston project in 2022.

“The imagery, which is framed by a Musqueam pattern, is derived from river life along the Fraser River,” The Lantern City website states.

Jack Poole Plaza
Untitled by Cyler Sparrow-Point. Image courtesy of The Lantern City.

Other works inspired by Fraser River in Jack Poole Plaza

Debra Sparrow’s grandson, Cyler Sparrow-Point, designed another untitled piece at Jack Poole Plaza. According to the website, it “tells the story of Cyler’s discovery of an historically significant basket”. Someone had buried it in the muddy shores of the Fraser River near Steveston.

“The artist created his imagery to reflect this dramatic experience, bringing together the action of the river waves below, and the intricate patterning of the basket above, floating to a new life.”

Jack Poole Plaza
Two Sturgeons by Atheana Picha. Image courtesy of The Lantern City.

Meanwhile, Salish / Kwantlen First Nation artist Atheana Picha designed another lantern at Jack Poole Plaza. Two Sturgeons also refers to the Fraser River.

“Sturgeons are gentle and slow-moving creatures that live deep in the river,” Picha states on The Lantern City website. “They travel up and down the waterways, and can grow to be quite old. My relatives call them the ‘elders of the river,’ and they look prehistoric.”

The Lantern City presents Coastal Lunar Lanterns at Jack Poole Plaza until February 27. Follow Pancouver on Twitter @PancouverMedia and on Instagram @PancouverMedia.

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Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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The Society of We Are Canadians Too created Pancouver to foster greater appreciation for underrepresented artistic communities. A rising tide of understanding lifts all of us.

We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation). With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.

The Society of We Are Canadians Too created Pancouver to foster greater appreciation for underrepresented artistic communities. A rising tide of understanding lifts all of us.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.