Vancouver Mural Festival
This mural was designed* for Vancouver Mural Fest 2019 to honour the Komagatamaru episode and its shared history with the Musqueam people. The unveiling of the mural on Aug 9th, 2019 also commemorated the official un-naming (formerly the 'Harry Stevens' building)† of the structure that it is painted on.
During the two months that the ship was docked at Burrard Inlet, passengers often went days without food or water, and Musqueam canoe paddlers sailed out to the ship to share provisions with those on board.The Komagatamaru story is one of pain, tribulation, and triumph, and it is significant to the history of the Punjabi-Sikh-Canadian diaspora. The ਤਾਇਕੇ-sye’yə (taike-sye’yə)‡ mural pays a multi-perspective homage to the story.
See below§ for images and descriptions of the design
Click here for CBC press coverage
West Tower (digital draft) 2019
West Tower (photograph) 2019
The West tower is divided into three vertical parts; each including a motif connecting to the Musqueam community. Starting with a contextual map of where the ship was docked, Orca whales, believed to be ancestors of the Musqueam people, surround the ship for protection. This portion also highlights one of the few established Sikh/Punjabi community spaces of the time, the first Gurdwara of Canada.
The points of transition in this image happen between sky and water. The second piece of this tower highlights the magnificence of the fauna and flora of the Pacific Northwest, a perspective held by the passengers who looked out into the distance towards a land that held both promise and wonder. The salmon fish are present in the water, pointing to the aid of the Musqueam community in providing food for those aboard the ship.
The bottom-most area presents a stylized image of the ship. Its form is made up of marble inlay, tile patterns and architectural features, some of the most precious cultural gifts carried by the passengers. The inner face of this tower is stylized with phulkari (flower-work) patterns, an iconic cultural motif of Punjabi hand-embroidery.
The East tower includes the personification of a "hopeful sky," pointing to the eventual accomplishments of the community that suffered in the Komagatamaru tragedy. The figure holds a bouquet with motifs relating to victory, culture and celebration. Some of these motifs include: the onion, signifying the culinary excellence of south-asian cuisine; the peacock feather, a symbol of cultural proliferation; the lotus, alluding to both perseverance and spiritual teachings.
* the portion of the mural discussed and presented on this website was designed by Keerat Kaur, and executed by Sunroop Kaur and Sandeep Johal. The portion of the mural that focuses more directly on the Musqueam people was designed and executed by Alicia Point and Cyler Sparrow.
† Henry Herbert (Harry) Stevens was Member of Parliament when the Komagatamaru arrived in Canada, and he was instrumental in having the ship turned away.He was a well-known opponent to Asian immigration
‡ the mural title is a hyphenation of the Punjabi word for cousin and the Musqueam word for friend. ਤਾਇਕੇ (taike) is a portmanteau of the words ਤਾਇਆ (taiya - elder paternal uncle) and ਕੇ (of)
§ the images and words shared in this digital article include only the portion of the mural that was designed by Keerat Kaur
East Tower (digital draft) 2019
East Tower (photograph) 2019