Acknowledging the histories of Indigenous Peoples through art

Local Tl'azt'en artist, Damian John, stands in front of his newly commissioned mural in downtown Salmo. Photo provided by FortisBC.

Art is a form of communication that can be used to convey unique histories and stories. FortisBC is incorporating Indigenous artwork into their facilities as one of the ways they are celebrating Indigenous culture and acknowledging the histories of Indigenous Peoples with both their employees and the public. 

FortisBC had a recent opportunity to commission a mural painted by a local Indigenous artist and today, the mural can be enjoyed by the public and is serving as a reminder of whose traditional territories we all live and work within.  

A colourful and meaningful mural in downtown Salmo 

Last year, a FortisBC substation in downtown Salmo underwent significant upgrades to help meet the growing energy needs of customers in the region. To show their appreciation to the Village of Salmo and enhance the community, one of FortisBC’s project managers, D’Arcy Caron, worked with mayor Diana Lockwood and the town who selected an artist to paint a mural on the nine-foot concrete fence surrounding the facility. 

The town council selected Damian John, a Tl’azt’en artist who now resides in Ymir, to design and paint the mural. With many Indigenous people living in and around Salmo, the town was looking for a way to integrate Indigenous histories and culture into the public art around the village and Damian’s work tells these stories in a unique and vibrant way.

Damian is a self-taught artist who specializes in working with acrylic, digital, and sculptural mediums. He is highly influenced by his Indigenous heritage and uses his art to explore, educate, delight, and hopefully create dialogue about the vast potential this world holds for us. He believes the Salmo mural approaches the idea of Truth and Reconciliation from the perspective of engagement and trust. 

Last September, Damian completed a portion of the mural that stretches along six panels of the wall. While the piece isn't complete, the story is already taking shape through the stunning imagery and vibrant colours. Damian’s next installation of the mural will be starting later this year and it will span across at least four more panels. 

Continually working towards Reconciliation 

As FortisBC continues to work towards Reconciliation with Indigenous Communities, this piece of artwork serves as an acknowledgment of whose land we live and work within, and a reminder of the histories and traditions that have come before us.

FortisBC continues to seek opportunities to work with Indigenous partners and are committed to achieving the Progressive Aboriginal Relations certification as a partner committed to prosperity in Indigenous communities.