Sculpture Unveiled at VIU Promotes Unity

(l to r): Jeet Manhas, Chair of the Nanaimo Port Authority, Laura Timmermans, artist and VIU alumna, Dr. Richard Atleo and Dr. Ralph Nilson, President and Vice-Chancellor of VIU, celebrate the unveiling of the Tsawalk sculpture at VIU's Nanaimo campus.

January 22, 2016 - 3:15pm

Nanaimo Port Authority has donated $5,000 to create a permanent home at Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Nanaimo campus for a six-by-six foot sculpture called Tsawalk.

Built by VIU Graphic Design alumna Laura Timmermans, the sculpture promotes the message of unity, diversity and connection. The piece is mounted on a wall next to the VIU Bookstore alongside a plaque explaining the artist’s intentions.

Timmermans says the sculpture was inspired Dr. Richard Atleo, a hereditary Nuu-chah-nulth chief who shares his world view in his book Tsawalk.

“The book talks about the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation’s philosophy of ‘Heshook-ish Tsawalk’, which means all things are connected,” she said. “The piece celebrates our coastal lifestyle, unique environment and our interdependency with all things.”

The City of Nanaimo commissioned Timmermans to create the sculpture in the spring of 2015 for the Temporary Public Art program. It was displayed at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre for several months. When the lease expired last August, Timmermans approached VIU to find a permanent home for her sculpture.

A local artist and designer who graduated from VIU in 2013, Timmermans is delighted the artwork will be displayed on campus.

“I was inspired to create this piece just before I graduated from the Graphic Design program in 2013, so I feel like it’s come full circle,” said Timmermans, who works locally as an artist and designer.

Dr. Ralph Nilson, VIU President and Vice-Chancellor, said the artwork creates a lasting legacy at VIU and supports one of the University’s core values of creating a learning environment where Indigenous learners see themselves represented.

“The timing of this installation allows us to recognize the significance and importance of the report from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which calls upon all Canadians to find ways to rebuild the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, working together towards reconciliation,” said Nilson. “I’m proud to be standing with the Port Authority to celebrate this symbolic and important piece of work. I’d also like to extend my thanks to the Port Authority for their generosity and willingness to support a VIU alumna – this is a demonstration of the impact our community partnership is having.”

Jeet Manhas, Chair of the Nanaimo Port Authority, said the organization is excited to work with VIU in support of the Graphic Design program.

“Laura Timmerman’s Tsawalk artwork is truly inspiring and highlights the need for all Island communities to work in harmony and to respect our surroundings,” Manhas said. “The Nanaimo Port Authority is proud to partner with VIU in this initiative. As indicated by our on-going commitment to our Memorandum of Understanding with Vancouver Island University, we are open to support projects in the future.”



Janina Stajic, Manager, Vancouver Island University

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Tags: In the Community

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