snékwem lane

snékwem lane, the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA)’s latest laneway project, is ready for the public to enjoy. Located between Granville and Pender Streets, snékwem lane is the fourth transformed laneway project managed by the DVBIA.

The collaboration is part of a larger transformation project derived from a public engagement process, Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver, that revealed a need for more inclusive spaces and experiences in Vancouver over the next 25 years.

snékwem lane

The mural design shares the artistic vision of artists James Harry and Lauren Brevner, who’ve turned a predominantly grey laneway into a bright, visual feast with blue, yellow and salmon-red colours.

The laneway’s design features Brevner and Harry’s modern interpretation of a traditional Squamish story about how the salmon came to Squamish waters. The story was passed down to Harry by his father, Xwalacktun, and speaks of visitors with supernatural powers who, with the help of snéḵwem (the sun), led the Squamish people to the village of the salmon people.

The design’s focal point is a 50-foot feminine figure personifying the spirit of snéḵwem (the sun) and seven kwu7s (chinook) salmon, the first salmon species to run every year.

snékwem lane

Seven is a noteworthy number for Indigenous people as it represents the Seventh Generation Principle: a philosophy that the actions we make now impact the future seven generations.

“Despite the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in, we’re proud to continue to support local artists, some of the hardest hit by the pandemic and the restrictions in place,” says Charles Gauthier, President and CEO of the DVBIA. “Laneways have a vast amount of untapped potential, and our transformation projects use art to brighten and animate a nondescript space that further encourages people to explore downtown.”

Previous DVBIA projects include Alley Oop, a bright, pink and yellow alleyway located just off of Hastings and Granville; Ackery’s Alley, an outdoor performance space featuring an interactive light and sound installation adjacent to the Orpheum Theatre; and Canvas Corridor, located in Eihu lane between Alberni and Robson Streets, highlighting 45 doorways and vents wrapped with artwork from local artists.

Photos by Kai Jaconson.

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