Local artist Danika Naccaerella was on hand last week at the Victoria unveiling of her artwork that will adorn the interior of the newest ferry in the BC Ferries fleet – the Northern Sea Wolf.
The 18-year-old vessel was bought for $12.6 million and sailed from Greece to B.C. late last year. It was supposed to begin its season last summer, but upgrades have taken longer than scheduled.
“The refit has been more complex and taken more time than anticipated,” Collins said. Other ferries were used on the route this year.
The vessel left Esquimalt Drydock a month ago for B.C. Ferries’ refit facility in Richmond, he said. The ferry will provide direct service between Port Hardy and Bella Coola. There will also be a weekly connector service between Bella Coola, Bella Bella, Shearwater and Ocean Falls.
The route was cancelled in 2013 but tourism operators are thrilled to see it return for the summer season in 2019.
In December 2017, the First Peoples’ Cultural Council issued a call for artists from the Central Coast to submit their portfolios for consideration. A jury of artist peers and BC Ferries representatives identified a shortlist of artists who were invited to submit specific design concepts for the Northern Sea Wolf.
The jury reviewed the design concepts before selecting and commissioning the designs of Richard Hunt and Danika Naccarella.
Although a young artist, Nacarella has already won numerous awards and is currently teaching art at Acwsalcta School in Bella Coola. 16 of her students traveled with her to be there for the event, honouring her and the other attendees with traditional Nuxalk songs and dances.
“This is an amazing opportunity, not only for me but for my students. I brought them down because they are the reason that I do what I do,” Nacarella said in her speech. “I want to show the kids that you can do whatever you want to do, and people will believe in you. I will always support you guys and I love you guys.”
Richard Hunt is a former chief carver at the Royal B.C. Museum’s Thunderbird Park and recipient of the Order of Canada and Order of B.C.
Hunt said he is proud to be able to showcase his culture.
“I’m honoured to have my work displayed on this vessel,” he said. “I love my life. I made my living through my culture. It’s a great way to go because you are doing something that you love.”
Hunt’s image of a sea wolf, which is a manifestation of the orca, will adorn the bow of the Northern Sea Wolf. His artwork will also be featured in the interior of the vessel along with Naccarella’s.
“We traverse the waters of First Nations and we need the waters of First Nations in order to do our very basic service,” said Mark Collins, B.C. Ferries chief executive officer. “We need to do it in a way that is harmonious, not just with the water, not just with the whales but also with the people.”
This is the second B.C. Ferries competition for First Nations artwork. Its three Salish class vessels carry designs of a raven, eagle and orca.
The Northern Sea Wolf is expected to make a stop in Bella Coola during its sea trials sometime over the next few months, but a date hasn’t been released yet.