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Indigenous Culture

Origin
& Spirit

The story of this place begins with the Indigenous people of Southern Vancouver Island who have lived, traded, feasted and honoured the ancestors and the spirits here since time immemorial. Their story is rooted in the timeless connection between the people and the land, from the waters of the Salish Sea to the rainforests, oak meadows and mountain peaks.

This is the land of the ləkʷəŋən Speaking Peoples of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations; the WSÁNEĆ Nations: SȾÁUTW (Tsawout), W JOȽEȽP (Tsartlip), WSIḴEM (Tseycum), BOḰEĆEN (Pauquachin) and MÁLEXEȽ(Malahat) Nation; as well as the Beecher Bay (Scia’new) and T’Sou-ke Nations.

Today, Indigenous ways of being and knowing inform every aspect of life in Greater Victoria, from arts and business to law and ocean stewardship. For too long, the Indigenous story was overshadowed by the colonial narrative, much as the city’s most iconic hotel was built over some of the west coast’s richest clam beds.

Now, a much-needed awakening has begun.

National Indigenous Peoples Day, Royal Roads University | James MacDonald

Collectively, the people of Greater Victoria and Southern Vancouver Island — Indigenous, settlers and newcomers alike — are finding our way forward through the path and process of reconciliation.

There is still much to be done. We are learning from each other, sharing strengths and seeking to understand the stories of all of the people who dwell in this land of extraordinary beauty, meaning and spirit.

Throughout the Victoria Rising website, you’ll see a motif from the artwork “Five Ravens” by Victoria-based Coast Salish artist Dylan Thomas (Qwul’thilum) from the Lyackson First Nation. 

“Five Ravens” is from a print based on a cedar pane Dylan made for his first solo exhibit, Sacred Geometry. “Ravens often symbolize transformation in Salish mythology,” says Dylan, “so this design represents the transformation of my artwork from fairly traditional Salish art into novel styles and processes.”

Inspired by Dylan’s talent and the theme of transformation in “Five Ravens,” we licensed this image with his permission for Victoria Rising. The copyright for the work remains with Dylan.

Find out more about Dylan Thomas here