Over 300 local residents joined Tsawwassen Rotarians and our First Nation neighbors at the dedication the Returning Sockeye sculpture as the centerpiece of Rotary Square at Tsawwassen Town Centre Mall. View photo essay Here; read full story by clicking
Hundreds Witness Returning Sockeye Dedication at Rotary Square

A hushed and respectful crowd of over 300 Tsawwassen residents witnessed history in Tsawwassen on Saturday, April 4, 2007. It was the first major public event following the historic treaty ratification by Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN).

TFN members and Tsawwassen residents gathered at the Tsawwassen Town Centre Mall for a traditional dedication and celebration of artist Karl Morgan's centerpiece sculpture Returning Salmon. The ceremony marked the climax of two years of cooperative effort to create Rotary Square at the mall. TFN Elder, Ruth Adams said the aboriginal art, traditional blessing and songs presented by the Splocton family in their time-honored TFN dress created "...a golden place for our people!"

To some it was a joyful coming out of the aboriginal community, to others it was a symbolic joining of two communities. Sean Hodgins, president of the Century Group, owners of the mall, wanted to create a civic space for community use. He commissioned architect and Rotarian Peter Dandyk to design the space and partnered with the Tsawwassen Rotary Club to commemorate 100 years of Rotary community service. Under the leadership of Graeme Peck the Tsawwassen Rotarians involved the TFN and artist Karl Morgan.

Those present at Saturday's ceremony warmly responded to the traditional blessing by Coast Salish Speaker Dean Sam, who explained the ceremony and songs of his people as well as the significance of the event. In Salish tradition, the Speaker comes from another community so the TFN is not seen as praising or boasting of themselves. He also serves as a witness for other First Nations.

Karl Morgan dedicated his work saying, "Returning Sockeye represents a continuum of traditions that honor the salmon, their environment and the people who rely on their return each year for sustenance."

He explained each element of his spectacular sculpture, centered on female sockeye watched by males on "cedarbark" textured glass set in a pool representing the ocean and rivers. A carved cedar canoe marked by the traditional TFN eagle crest and flanked by an eagle feather representing natural medicine caps the sculpture.

"I was surprised and very impressed by everything we saw and learned today," said Tsawwassen resident Barb Kelly. "This is a great addition to Tsawwassen."

Following the blessing and artist's dedication all were invited to enjoy complementary BBQ salmon, cake and drinks. Balloons, a bubble machine and face painting added to the fun and festive mood.

Many people cooperated and generously supported the creation of Rotary Square including the Century Group, TFN, TSI Terminal Systems Inc., Vancouver Port Authority, Westshore Terminals, Thrifty Foods, Nathan Allan Glassworks and Ladner Harbour Machine Shop.

In the fifteen years since Ladner Rotarians sponsored the creation of the Rotary Club of Tsawwassen the 73 local members have been dedicated to community involvement and projects throughout the world. Playgrounds, walkways, bus shelters, park projects, youth programs, senior facilities and numerous social support groups have been the local beneficiaries. International work includes polio vaccinations, cleft palette restorations, fresh water wells, literacy programs, disaster relief support, medical supplies and culture exchange programs for youth and young professionals. All business leaders and professionals interested in community service are invited to join.