For thousands of years, the Esquimalt and Songhees South Salish Nations treasured the calm waters of Victoria’s Harbour, it’s life giving abundance and the security of its protected entrance. Between 1914 and 1916, a 850 metre concrete breakwater was constructed which has became a treasured Victoria icon, recreational site and a revered place for many of all cultures.
In 2009, to honour the traditions and history of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations, Greater Victoria Harbour Authority sponsored phase I and II of Na'Tsa'Maht - The Unity Wall Mural, a project which transforms the breakwater into an enormous canvas. GVHA continued the project in 2013 with Phase III.
The response to the incredible, original artwork has been powerful and has ignited a vision to cover both sides of the breakwater with the largest mural in Canada, to create the Unity Wall, a public art piece that extends to the sea and creates a bridge between cultures.
Celebrated artists Butch Dick of the Songhees Nation and Darlene Gait of the Esquimalt Nation are mentoring emerging artists in the creation of the murals of the Unity Wall. Teams of six youth will paint their mentor's original designs on the enormous panels that will make up each phase. Each young artist will also create an image for inclusion in the mural.
Through shared vision, artistic collaboration, and dedication, the Unity Wall project helps youth develop their skill while reclaiming knowledge and pride in their First Nations culture and in themselves.
As a team these artists will share their stories with the world.