Squamish Nation artist’s designs featured on new West Vancouver fire truck
West Vancouver Fire Rescue unveiled a brand new tower truck Friday, featuring artwork by a member of the Squamish Nation.
The truck’s rear roll-up door features an image of a Thunderbird, representing protection and strength, rising in smoke from a long house, representing family.
The truck’s side body upper sign boards feature an image of a west coast canoe with Coast Salish paddles up, holding the Lions Gate Bridge.
The canoe symbolizes pulling together, while the paddles represent peace and respect. The bridge symbolizes building connection between communities.
“It’s awesome to have the artwork on it. When I do artwork I’m not just doing it for myself, I’m doing it for the community. I’m doing it to help pass on messages, like in our world, the Coast Salish world, the artwork says a lot of words,” artist Xwalacktun told Global News.
“In this piece, it’s showing bridging us together, it’s symbolizing coming into balance, showing respect for each other and that we’re family.”
Tower trucks, also known as mid-mount aerial platforms, are used to fight fires from an elevated point and for rescues.
West Vancouver Fire Chief Dave Clark said the new truck is more compact than the department’s other vehicles, but still has the same reach.
It’s also equipped with an idle reduction system to conserve fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“I’m incredibly happy with the way it’s turned out. Xwalacktun took 10 or 15 words and made it into art, and from art it became a story: It’s a story of the past, the present and will be of the future for the next 20 years while the truck is in service,” he said.
“It’s really about identifying our connection to the Squamish Nation and how important is is for us to be here to serve them and be able to assist them in their times of need.”
Members of the Squamish Nation, West Vancouver Council and students were on hand for a private ceremony, which included blessing and cleansing the new equipment.
The $1.77 million truck will go into service this month, after firefighters train on the new equipment.
Xwalacktun described the collaboration as a step in the right direction towards reconciliation.
“A lot of times our elders would say we’re actually invisible in our own community,” he said.
“But with this being on a machine like this, equipment like this, it’s going to be around the community.”
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.