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Writing The Grand Story

Snaw-Naw-As First Nations artist and knowledge keeper, Ćum'qwa:tun, (Lawrence Mitchell ) of the Snaw-naw-as First Nation shared with the Naut'sa Mawt Community Wellness Network his creative process for designing a logo that guides our journey together as one.

"This graphic went through several variations before I landed on the final depiction, some people look at art as just something nice to look at, some look at art at its surface ideas, and others utilize art to tell a grand story, the last one is me, and I put my whole heart and spirit into the new logo. Here I've worked on a statement to help create a greater understanding of what the image means to me and how I use it to tell stories. Based on everything I've shared here your organization can use it to tell your story and to achieve your goals, values, and how you conduct business in your own way, combined with my ideas and together we can lift up anyone we come into contact with. I hope it helps, I could go on describing it for a long time and delve way deeper but I've spent half as much time trying to write it down as I did drawing the picture. I'd say the things that you see and you don’t know about are meant for you to bond with the Snuneymuxw and snuwnuwus to know more, or to invite people from those nations to share more. I didn’t include the hul’q’umi’num’ word nautsa mawt as it was given by our relatives the Snuneymuxw and I feel that they can expand on why they gave it to you and what it means to them, in doing so it is a nudge to you all to open up your hearts and minds to include our people in your dialogue, plans and meetings. Thank you again for including me in helping shape your organization in this way and I hope I've done you all proud."


  • I chose the earth tumuxw green) to symbolize the foundation all things in creation, the greatest source of all wisdom known to mankind, the giver of all life, the provider ofeverything we need as humans to survive

  • I chose 3 shades of blue to symbolize bodies of water: kwatl’kwu {oceans}(dark blue), statluw {rivers}(medium blue) lhumuxw {rains}(light blue)

  • The white outlines atop the green/black trees/the shades of blue represent yiq {snow}

  • The humans that inhabit the earth are represented by the 4 colors on top: representing the goals of inclusivity, thus when everyone works together it builds community resilience. In our way of life there are no words in hul’q’umi’num’ to put another person down, it is against our teachings to harm another person's self image, we don’t interfere with someone else’s ability to love themselves.

  • They are also the medicine wheel colors which represent a wholeness of self, health, wellbeing, &; harmonious balance: in this case it’s the organization itself and thegoals/values it is striving for.

  • The medicine wheel is a symbol of unity, peace, harmony and courage. Generally, it is in circular form but from time to time it can morph, based on the artist, and in this case the black outline of the entire image represents that perfect circle, the perfect circle symbolizes the relationship of all living things and the cyclical nature of all relationships. It represents the natural flow of beautiful energy that interconnects all living beings.Everything in the universe is a part of a single whole and we all have a sacred trust to one another, and a divine purpose to contribute our gifts to make the lives of others better. From that flows the act of sustainability and our capacity to ensure we consider the past, the present and the future when it comes to decision making and resource management. This is a sacred trust not only to ourselves as humans but more importantly everything in the world around us, all of creation, and by awakening ourselves to this way of living, thinking and being we improve the wellbeing of the community, thus improving the quality of life for one and all, not just humans.

  • Cedar – The Coast Salish people embody a holistic connection between all human and non-human forms. They draw strength and power for a good life through this interconnectedness. One such connection is between the people and the great Cedar Tree, which takes many shapes and forms, and provides for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual stamina. It is the giver of all life to our people and continues to sustain us in the same ways it has done for our ancestors for thousands of years, ever since the first grandfather/grandmother were transformed from human energy to something else in creation, in this case the yellow cedar {pashuluqw}/red cedar {xpey} The branch is but one form that we use to bring our spirit/mind/heart/body into balance. In this image the branch represents the whole tree from roots, trunk, barks, branches, the rains, the air, the sun, the animals and the earth that it stems from. Since we cannot separate one from the other, everything relies on each other for survival. Cedar is sacred and is treated with the highest reverence, how we treat cedar is how we should treat each other, in many ways it makes the sacred visible. We've used cedar for travel, lodging, clothing, food security, identification, tools, ceremonies, and many other traditional uses.

  •  tuytuxtun to the people is a sacred site where the first people fell from the sky, to nanaimo and surrounding communities it is known as Mt. Benson. In this image it is the cyan color, it is meant to acknowledge the history of this territory, and to represent opening up our hearts and minds to our relationships with the Snuneymuxw mustiyuxw.

  • hwi’a’las – known to most in the region as the Notch Hill – to snuwnuwus it is a great lookout where we watched over the territory in order to protect our people. People that know the history of the Coast Salish know this mountain from Nanoose all the way down to the United States, because it was the northernmost lookout against invaders. We had runners that stood atop the mountain watching over and listening for non friendly people, and when the time came they went down to Snuneymuxw and the Snuneymuxw sent runners that went to shts’uminus and all the way down to each territory, readying them for the upcoming wars.

  • The trees represent the vast forests within the territory and on the earth and the role they play in our survival, they are a part of the perfect circle as their lives intertwine with all of creation as a part of the natural flow of sacred energy within all beings.

  • Salish design elements – there are circles, trigons, crescents and extended crescents – meant to represent the values, teachings, history, culture and traditions of the people where your organization operates-- "

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