On Saturday, July 6, there will be two separate events taking place in Shearwater, BC recognizing the history of the region. There will be a World War II cenotaph dedication ceremony followed by a mural unveiling entitled “Bella Bella – United in History,” celebrating the founding of Bella Bella.
The first event is a cenotaph dedication ceremony commemorating the Bella Bella World War II Royal Canadian Air Force Station and the airmen, veterans, and local aboriginal veterans who served in the various wars and peacekeeping missions during the 20th century. The monument, a model Stranraer aircraft with a 17ft wing span stands beside an obelisk and a totem pole carved by Heiltsuk artist Yagvudlas, Ian ‘Nusi Reid.
Reid, whose ancestral name ‘Nusi means ‘Full Moon,’ was born and raised in Bella Bella. His main cultural mentor has been his great aunt, Mary Hunt. She is one of the last matriarchs of the Heiltsuk Nation with extensive cultural knowledge.
The Warrior’s Pole depicts the raven guarding the warrior as a tribute to their courage and honour. In the words of Reid, the pole “will be installed by the crew and descendents of the people who went to war and still live here. This pole will stand for generations to come and people will never forget the sacrifices that were made to protect our country, and we shall never forget the fallen.” There will be a formal military dedication as well as a traditional Heiltsuk blessing ceremony.
The second event, “Bella Bella – United in History” is a celebration of the founding of Bella Bella and the united efforts of the Central Coast community, Heiltsuk and non-Aboriginal, and their contributions to the area. The event will mark the unveiling of a 120’ by 22’ mural that has been painted on the side of an original World War II aircraft hangar by internationally acclaimed muralist, Paul Ygartua.
Ygartua, who is based in Canada, Spain, France, and England, has received international acclaim for his monumental murals and domed ceilings. His work is appreciated and recognized by collectors worldwide. He is the creator of some of the largest murals in North America and Europe.
The mural features portraits of the four founding Chiefs of the Heiltsuk Nation in regalia, a portrait of the Hudson’s Bay factor John McLoughlin who established Fort McLoughlin at Bella Bella in 1833 and images of historic Heiltsuk and non-Aboriginal community members who made a significant contribution to the establishment of the greater Bella Bella community during the past 150 years.
Between the two events, there will be a traditional salmon barbecue and performances by Heiltsuk dancers. For more information, a media kit, to arrange an interview, or to inquire about traveling to Shearwater for the day’s events, please contact: Trish Sissons at (604) 833-9547.