This Coast Salish artwork by Phyllis Atkins appears outside the 6th floor meeting room at City Hall, inspiring people to work together.

Phyllis Atkins - Paddling through the Waves of Change

Artist: Phyllis Atkins
Location: 6th Floor Meeting Room at City Hall (13450 104 Ave)
Category: Civic collection
Year Installed: 2015

About Paddling through the Waves of Change

This artwork by Phyllis Atkins (Qʼwoyʼticʼa), a Kwantlen First Nation artist, was designed to inspire those meeting together at City Hall to consider their decisions in context to the needs of the environment and the importance of community. Translated into a design on a glass film, the drawing presents a traditional Salish canoe riding on waves with the rising sun above.

Each paddle blade is different, representing the diversity of people. The male and female salmon in the canoe indicate the need for balance in the world. The artwork’s overall message is that although we may be different from one another, we are all in the same boat and must paddle together in the same direction to move forward.

More on Paddling through the Waves of Change

About the Artist

Phyllis (Qwoy’tic’a) Atkins is a Kwantlen First Nation artist whose name means “I wear the clouds like a blanket” or “Shrouded in clouds.” Her name comes from the Nɬeʔkepmx language and it was given to her by her maternal grandfather Hereditary Chief Anthony Joe of the Shakan Band (Thompson River People). The artist is also part Sto:lo (People of the river).

Atkins has taken oil painting lessons from Barbara Boldt and hand-carved silver jewelry lessons by Master Carver Derek Wilson. In 2005, her and her husband Drew Atkins established their home-based business in Fort Langley, Kʼwyʼiʼyʼe Spring Salmon Studio, where they create both traditional and contemporary Coast Salish art, specializing in custom orders. They have an art gallery just outside of their home and welcome the public to visit by appointment.

Her other public artworks for the City of Surrey include Returning to the River and We Are All Connected to This Land.