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Guardian Spirits

Guardian Spirits by Trenton Pierre

Artist: Trenton Pierre
Location: North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex (12780 110 Avenue)
Category: Public
Year Installed: 2019 when building is complete

About Guardian Spirits

Fabricated in white frit dots on clear glass, ­­Trenton Pierre’s mirrored designs for the windows of the North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex symbolize reconciliation in the form of a contemporary Salish dance mask and drum filled with hopeful symbols.

The design acts as a guardian protecting the different users and functions within the building. The artist also wanted to depict something Salish Peoples hold sacred. He says:

Our culture was almost lost due to residential schools and attempted genocide, but our people fought back to keep our cultures and traditions alive. Our masks and drums were burned in the time of colonization. We hid our masks away from the public in fear of losing them. Today we step into reconciliation and are proud of our culture. Being able to still practice “mask dancing” is a tribute to our survival.

Meanings of Symbols

Mask

The mask speaks to the survival of Salish culture and acknowledges the knowledge and wisdom that the dances and dancers bring into the present.

Eagle

Depicted as a mirror image on the mask, the eagle guides us into reconciliation with wisdom from the past and present. The eagle’s head is presented sideways with its claws forming the mouth and chin. When worn dancing, the mask transforms the dancer into the spirit eagle—a supernatural being. The twinning of the design to make one eagle highlights that in reconciliation, we come together as one.

Cross Hatching

These marks recall the marks made from carving traditional wooden masks in cedar. Cedar is very important to all coastal Indigenous cultures.

Moons

Along the sides of the eagle’s heads are crescent-shaped moons, indicating time and change.

Feathers

Feathers are often added to a mask’s edges, particularly eagle features. Located near the top of the design, the feathers shower the people below with strength and courage to walk this journey of reconciliation together.

Drum

The drum symbolizes the music and songs of the mask dancers. On the drum is an image of the world we share—Turtle Island, the land of North America.

Bears

The adult bears followed by cubs represent the importance of family and togetherness.

Trees

The trees remind us of nature that surrounds us and the importance of the cedar tree to Salish culture.

Paddles

We are all in the same canoe, and we must pull together into the future to succeed. The seven paddles symbolize the sacred teachings of the Katzie First Nation and of reconciliation: courage, humility, love, honesty, truth, wisdom, and respect.

About the Artist

Trenton Pierre is an artist from Katzie First Nation. In 2016, he shifted from a career in civil engineering to pursue art and to follow a path more aligned with his spirit. He creates artworks in a variety of mediums including custom made spray-paint murals and pictures. He has also worked with the school districts of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to inspire young students with both his art and stories of his life.