Skip to content

Search website by keyword

About YYJ

Coast Salish Totems Unveiled at Victoria International Airport

May 5, 2011

Today, the Victoria Airport hosted the dedication of three totems poles created by Coast Salish Master Carver Charles W. Elliott.

It was a vision conceived by retired VAA President & CEO Richard Paquette more than three years ago to create an authentic representation of First Nations art on airport lands.  Today, the last phase became a reality and Richard was on hand for the festivities joining Charles Elliott, Chief Vern Jacks of the Tseycum First Nation, VAA Board Chair Christine Stoneman, and President & CEO Geoff Dickson as they unveiled each of the three totems.

The totems represent significant historical legends as well as offer respect to some of the animals held in the highest regard by the people of the First Nations. 

A traditional Salish Welcome Figure will greet all visitors and residents each time they exit the airport.  An Orca and Thunderbird totem represents a balance of power as the thunderbird holds great spiritual power and the orca an awesome physical power and intellect.  The Raven, Wolf, and Bear depict animals that are also held in high esteem.  The raven a messenger, the wolf considered protectors of their sacred places and the bear respected as a family caretaker. 

“The totems are some of the finest I have seen anywhere.  It is a proud day for the Victoria Airport Authority” said Geoff Dickson, President & CEO, Victoria Airport Authority.

“I am always humbled when asked to create a piece or pieces of artwork or carvings.  I don’t take my involvement lightly.  I feel I am working for my people.  The artwork or carvings, I say are great ambassadors for our Saanich Salish Nation and speak to the world of our existence and history” said Charles W. Elliott.

Other works by Charles Elliott include three carvings in the Eagles Landing Observation Lounge located on the third floor of the air terminal building and a series of swimming salmon carvings that line the bulkhead above the domestic baggage carousels.

The totems are located outside the Arrivals doors at the West end of the air terminal building for all to enjoy!

The VAA’s Art in the Airport Program began in 2001 with its first commission of public art during phase 1 of the terminal building expansion project.  The program also includes a rotating art component which regularly displays the work of various local artists through the Art Gallery of the Victoria, local community arts organizations, and schools.