Cowichan Tribes artist Darrell Thorne took top prize in a First Nations art contest hosted by the Island Corridor Foundation.
The ICF, which owns the E&N rail corridor that runs through Duncan, engaged Vancouver Island’s First Nations and their artists to participate in the competition this fall by showcasing their own art design on the corridor’s future passenger rail service trains.
Thorne’s artwork Q’ullhanumutsun, an orca design, was chosen in honour of the Salish Sea that encompasses Vancouver Island, and the image will be used for the ICF’s upcoming marketing and ad campaigns.
The design depicts traditional Coast Salish form line combined with a contemporary flare exclusive to Thorne.
Thorne said his design of the killer whales was based on a “family decision”.
“A family of orcas must make a decision to travel into the spirit world to seek help of their dwindling necessities and suffering environment,” he said.
“As the trip is an epic one into the spirit world, they are selfless, and know it must be done. However it must also be a family decision, as no one can be left behind alone. The orcas travel in a pack, to keep safe and travel as a family. They care for each other and watch out for one another as they go to various destinations to meet their family needs. Orcas are symbols of unity, strength, loyalty and family.”
Thorne was presented with the $1,500 first prize for his winning submission.
John Marston’s art submission was recognized with the second-place honour in the competition, and he will receive a cheque for $500 from the ICF.
“We were delighted with the truly inspiring entries we received from Island First Nations artists,” said Larry Stevenson, CEO of the ICF.
“The creative mastery captures the beauty of First Nations cultures and really helps bring to life our vision of having modern rail service on the tracks of Vancouver Island once again.”
Stevenson said the intent of the competition was to show what the future could hold for train service on the Island.
“Some people think we’re looking to just revive the railway to what it was before, but we’re trying to create a modern and efficient transportation system,” he said.
“The Island’s First Nations are full partners with us in our vision for the future.”