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Sooke school selects salmon work by Indigenous alum as new logo

Artist Jordanna George is a member of the T’Sou-ke Nation and former Saseenos student

A new mural at Saseenos Elementary School, called River Runner, now also serves as the school’s new logo. It was created by Indigenous artist Jordanna George, a member of the T’Sou-ke Nation and a former Saseenos student.

“It’s nice the school chose a T’Sou-ke artist for the mural, and I hope that inspires other people to listen to Indigenous people, to respect our way of life and the traditions we still carry today,” George said. “It still seems crazy (to me) to represent the school I grew up going to.”

George, who earned a degree in visual art from the University of Victoria, has been involved in art since she was a young child.

“I always wanted to be an artist and study art in school,” recalled George, a Burnaby resident who works illustrating comics and does some writing as well. She recently completed A Howl, a comic anthology to be published this month by Native Realities. A focus on LBGT+ issues plays an important role in her work as well.

SOOKE HISTORY: Sophie George and the Saseenos subdivision

“I chose salmon as the theme for the mural because it’s such an important part of T’Sou-ke life,” George explained. “I went with basic black because of its simplicity. Learning about the salmon’s life cycle made quite an impression on me. It was one of the cooler things you get to do in elementary school, interacting with real animals. I also found a bit of humour in it, too, with a group of fish being called a school.”

The idea to change the school’s art first surfaced about a year ago, said Cameron Meiklejohn, vice-principal at Saseenos Elementary.

“One of our teachers pointed out that the old logo, the Sea Wolf, is more typical of the northern part of Vancouver Island,” he said. “We talked about doing something that was more culturally appropriate with a local Indigenous theme.”

After consultations with Na’tsu’maht, the Indigenous Education branch of the Sooke School District, the decision was made to involve local Indigenous artists in the project.

“We reached out to the T’Sou-ke Nation last spring to submit art and ideas that would be meaningful to the community and received three submissions,” said Meiklejohn, in his third year at Saseenos. “Every school has a team that focuses on truth and reconciliation to raise cultural awareness, and we asked Na’tsa’maht to help with the selection in the fall.”

Although they haven’t been able to plan an event for an official unveiling because of COVID restrictions, the logo is already on the school’s website, letterheads, and clothing.

“We’re also working with some local organizations to get it displayed in the community to build school pride and awareness,” Meiklejohn said. “Our long-term goal is we want the T’Sou-ke Nation to feel that we’re honouring their traditional local culture and territory. They do a lot for us, including letting us use the forest land behind the school for learning opportunities.”

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