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Guardian Spirits

Guardian Spirits by Trenton Pierre

Artist: Trenton Pierre
Location: North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex (10950 126A Street)
Category: Public
Year Installed: 2019

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.

Mask Panels

Central to the design is a dance mask representing respect for the knowledge, wisdom, and resilience of Coast Salish cultures. First Nation dancers continue to practice these attributes. The dance mask sees everyone approaching and looks out to the river, mountains, and ocean beyond. It symbolizes a guardian spirit for our journey towards reconciliation. On the mask is a pair of eagles whose wings carry wisdom from the past and prayers into the future. Their feathers shower the diverse people below with strength and courage. Beside their eyes are the phases of the moon, indicating time and change.

Drum Panels

On another pair of windows is a drum design symbolizing 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. The adult bears above, followed by cubs, represent the importance of family and togetherness, while the trees represent our dependence on nature. The paddles below remind us that we are all in the same canoe and must pull together 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.

Salmon Panels

A third panel design pays respect to the cycle of life and the importance of the salmon from roe through to spawning and regeneration. The crosshatch marks throughout the artwork mimic the act of carving, honouring the importance of cedar to all coastal cultures.

About the Artist

Trenton Pierre (sɬə́məxʷ), creator of Rain Awakens, 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 makes artworks in a variety of mediums and has partnered with the school districts of Surrey, Maple Ridge, and Pitt Meadows to inspire young students.