In 2002 we invited submissions from the community for both a name and logo for our newly developing delegated urban Indigenous child and family Agency. In early June 2002 the Board members and staff chose the following Agency name submission offered by John Aitken, Health Outreach staff member of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre. The following is John’s submission:
“When I was brainstorming agency names, I thought about what links all the Nations together on the Island. I looked up in the corner of my office and saw this big branch of cedar hanging there that I brought in from my home. The name just made sense.”
“All the First Nations on this Island use cedar is many ways. Cedar is sacred to the Island peoples and is a constant and continuing way to connect our peoples to the land. Cedar has spiritual, emotional, mental and physical uses in our cultures. This is what I understand about the uses of cedar and what I use it for. When Coast Salish babies were born, traditionally we were kept in a basket of cedar. Today when Coast Salish people pass on, their casket is surrounded by cedar boughs. Cedar boughs are used to brush your body during cleansing rituals and used to cleanse rooms. Cedar is hung in homes for protection against bad medicine / spirits, is mixed with other plants in teas for medicine, is used to make baskets, clothes and tools. Cedar is used as a way to let my ancestors know they are welcome in this place, that they are welcome in my home. It’s my way to acknowledge them. Naming the new child and family agency “Surrounded By Cedar Child and Family Services” is a good way to let children and families coming here know they are welcome in this place, welcome in our home.”
– John Aitken
“I am a Coast Salish man. My mother was a Coast Salish woman, my father was a Scottish and Haida Gwaii man. I live and work in the urban Indigenous community in Victoria and I care about the community.
I was orphaned at a young age and had some pretty special people that were there to help me. There was a social worker and her name is Joanne Claxton, and she is Native. There were other people, and that were important too, but it made a huge difference that Joanne came to our home.
To this day Joanne says that my brother and I were different, that she could see our potential and that we had a desire to change things. When I came back to the community I had to go see her to thank her and tell her that I’ll always remember what she did for us.
Most of my brothers and sisters quit going to school because they were getting beat up and teased. My brother told me one day that there was a half breed like us working at the school and that’s when I decided that I would go back. It makes a huge difference to see social workers and teachers with brown skin when you have brown skin. ”
In the spirit of spindle whorls, the logo for Surrounded by Cedar depicts an adult face with a smaller child’s face inside the mouth. Surrounding these two faces are the dendrochronoligical rings of red and yellow cedar.
“The red and yellow of the design symbolize red and yellow cedar, while the adult’s face with the child inside its mouth represents the vitality of caring for future generations of children. I wanted the design the represent the growth of Surrounded by Cedar as an agency, while also representing my personal growth as an artist.”
– lessLIE Artist
My colonized, Catholic, Canadian name is Leslie Robert Sam. I am Coast Salish of Cowichan and Penelakut descent. My decolonized pen name is lessLIE.
Hitler once said that the bigger the lie you tell, the more people you can get to believe in it. Hitler was about racism, genocide and imperialism, which are political forces I am fighting against as a contemporary Coast Salish person.
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in First Nations Studies from Malaspina University-College. I am currently attending the University of Victoria, pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Coast Salish art while getting M.A. credit for my artwork.
I have been studying Coast Salish art for the past seven years. In the summer of 2001 I was a guest artist at Thunderbird Park Carving Studio, a voluntary position which I will be returning to in the summer of 2002 as a studio component of my Master’s degree. I am a relative of Susan Point, who has a strong influence on my work. I aspire to become one of the most ARTiculate Coast Salish artists of the twenty first Century. The large, circular face in this Coast Salish design represents the adults in the family, while the small circular face represents the children in the family.