Updates from Culture & Events

City of Nanaimo // October 2021

          Images above and below - Noel Brown, Welcome Pole, 2021
          Photos: Sean Fenzl

Snuneymuxw Welcome Pole for Maffeo Sutton Park


After many months of planning and work, on September 27, the Snuneymuxw Welcome Pole by master carver Noel Brown was raised in a prominent location at Maffeo Sutton Park. Towering over 45 feet into the sky, the pole includes figures of an eagle, a bear, an orca and a matriarch and faces East towards the sunrise. It has quickly become a new landmark, a point of community pride, and a powerful signal of Snuneymuxw identity at a site that was an ancient village long before settlers arrived. If you visit today, you might find flowers and other small offerings laid at the base of the pole, like stones that have been painted with the words “Every Child Matters” and others with Hul’q’umi’num phrases.

Initiated by Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre in 2018, the idea of the project was embraced by Snuneymuxw Chief, Council and the Elders Advisory, whose direction and teachings were incorporated into the design by artist Noel Brown. Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre secured the donation of a cedar log from Mosaic Forest Management, as well as a grant from the Government of Canada through Canadian Heritage. The City of Nanaimo embraced the project too, providing both a financial contribution and expert support from Staff across departments,

understanding it as a meaningful community initiative that contributes to the process of Reconciliation.

Carving began in spring 2021, and over the last several months, the Culture & Events team visited regularly with Noel and his family at their home, helping to plan the physical installation of the pole in the park, documenting the progress, talking and learning. What we witnessed as the project unfolded was a generous and collaborative process, led by Noel with his wife Tammy. Working full-time most days of the week, through spring, into the summer and a record-breaking heat dome, and into the wetter days of early fall, a team of people followed Noel’s lead and had a hand in the work. Noel and Tammy’s sons, themselves becoming skilled carvers, worked alongside many family members including some who travelled long distances to participate, and a large, close-knit circle of friends.

There were elements of the Welcome Pole project that made it an emotional and complex journey—from the logistics of moving and turning the massive pole for carving and painting, to the site assessment, engineering and construction of a solid base in the park, many partners worked together. After important cultural work was undertaken by Elders and members of Snuneymuxw, the pole was raised and was celebrated as part of the community gathering on September 30, the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

Now at home in the park, the pole has changed the landscape. We invite you to visit and see for yourself!

                Image: Kamal Parmar, Poet Laureate
                Photo: Dirk Heydemann, HA Photography

FOR SENIORS! A Rendezvous with the Poetic Muse

This winter Poet Laureate Kamal Parmar offers a four-part poetry workshop series designed for seniors. Taking place over four weekly sessions starting on January 19th, participants will explore the healing and holistic benefits of poetry, and will learn how to hone their skills as writers.

Registration is open exclusively to participants in the Nanaimo Harbour City Senior’s Program. Find more details about upcoming Seniors programming by clicking on the link, below!


Learn more about Senior Recreation Programs

Image: Detail of individual panels: Hummingbird Project, 2013, Students of Bayview Elementary with Yvonne Vander Kooi

Movements in Public Art :
De-Installation of The Hummingbird Project
Reinstallation of Never Out of Season

As part of the care for our Public Art Inventory, we regularly review and assess the condition of artworks. This season, we removed a much-loved community art project from 2013 that had reached the end of its material lifespan. The Hummingbird Project, was a community art project led by artist Yvonne Vander Kooi, in partnership with the South-End Community Association, and students of Bayview Elementary School. Through school visits, storytelling, and creative expression this project demonstrated the capacity of art to bring life and vibrancy to a community park while also delivering an opportunity to reflect and learn about issues related to the natural environment.

The program was created in dialogue with artist Michael Nichol Yahgulanaas’ beautiful story of a tenacious hummingbird called The Flight of the Hummingbird. Reading the message of hope and action, community children created their own visions of nature to adorn the park. Now that it has been removed, the panels that remained in good shape have been relocated to Bayview Elementary School where they will become part of the school environment.

Another work in our Public Art Inventory was in need of renewal this year. David Moench’s Never Out of Season, formerly sited in Maffeo Sutton Park was refurbished and relocated to Bowen Park Complex. Working together with the artist and the Parks team, we brought new life to this six-sided interactive sculpture. Moench’s practice is rooted in airbrushing style and skills he honed over years working in the automotive industry. In this work he was inspired to pay tribute to the seasons reflected in our local evergreen arbutus trees that bend in the style of a never-ending Celtic knot. Check it out next time you stop by the Bowen Recreation Complex.

Learn more about our Public Art Inventory

                                          Image: Never Out of Season, 2012, David Moench

Deadline for nominations approaching

We are calling on you to nominate cultural leaders who deserve recognition for their work! Every year, we honour and celebrate achievements in arts and culture through the City’s Culture & Heritage Awards.

We’re accepting 2022 nominations from the community until Friday, October 29, 2021 at 4:00 PM. The four nomination categories:


This is your opportunity to recognize the people and groups that you believe make Nanaimo a culturally vibrant city. Nomination forms and details on past award winners is available online.

Learn more about the Culture & Heritage Awards

Contact Us


With respect & gratitude, we acknowledge that our work is carried out on the
territory of the Snuneymuxw people

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