News / Vancouver

New Stanley Park sculpture to honour aboriginal-Portuguese roots

The veil is being removed from a new bronze aboriginal sculpture at Stanley Park, and off a little-known history of the area.

The five-metre-high sculpture ‘Shore to Shore’ is being unveiled at ceremony at Brockton Point on Saturday. The piece was carved by Coast Salish carver Ts’uts’umutl Luke Marston in honour of his Coast Salish and Portuguese ancestors, who once lived in the park.

“For me, this became about identity, myself and my family’s identity, who we are and where we come from,” Marston said. “Through this journey, I learned about my Portuguese side and that balances my First Nations side.”

 Ts’uts’umutl Luke Marston and his sculpture Shore to Shore, which honours his aboriginal and Portuguese roots. The base is made of stone imported from Portugal and was carved by a Portuguese stone mason.

Ts’uts’umutl Luke Marston and his sculpture Shore to Shore, which honours his aboriginal and Portuguese roots. The base is made of stone imported from Portugal and was carved by a Portuguese stone mason.

The sculpture depicts Marston’s great-great-grandfather Joe Silvey, who was also known as Portuguese Joe, a whaler and fisherman who came to Vancouver around 1858 from the Azorean island of Pico. The base of the sculpture is made out of stone with a Portuguese design.

Also depicted in the sculpture is Silvey’s first wife, Musqueam noblewoman Khaltinaht who died young of tuberculosis, and his second wife, Kwatleematt of the Sechelt First Nation. Marston is a descendent of one of Silvey’s 11 children.

The $700,000 project took five years to complete. It was underwritten by Heritage Canada’s Canadian Legacy Fund and the Portuguese community in B.C., the Portuguese and Azorean governments. The City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Parks Board donated $20,000 from its reconciliation funds to the initiative. The Vancouver Parks Board donated $5,000.

 One of three figures on the sculpture.

One of three figures on the sculpture.

The sculpture means just as much to Vancouver’s Portuguese community, whom Marsden worked closely with, as it does to First Nations, said Portuguese Consul General Maria João Boavida. “It is the first acknowledgement of the Portuguese pioneers on the West Coast,” she said. “It’s important for people to understand our contribution because sometimes I think it’s forgotten.”

Statistics Canada data notes that 25,000 people in Vancouver identify as Portuguese. According to Boavida, the first Portuguese arrived in Canada around the 1800s, but that immigration increased in the 1960s when the country suffered through a tough economy.

Shore to Shore is a “unique union” of First Nations and Portuguese elements, Boavida said.  A raptor representing both the Portuguese açor and the Canadian eagle sits atop the sculpture. And the black-and-white base was built with stones imported from Portugal. “You can find such stones installed in Brazil, Macao, Portugal and now in Vancouver,” she said.

The sculpture’s creation from start to finish is chronicled in the book Shore to Shore: The Art of Ts'uts'umutl Luke Marston, by Suzanne Fournier.

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