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New Salish-Class vessel named and  call for artists for vessel artwork

New Salish-Class vessel named and call for artists for vessel artwork

In recognition of the Coast Salish as the traditional stewards and original mariners of the Salish Sea, BC Ferries has named its new Salish-Class ferry Salish Heron. BC Ferries will honour the Salish Heron name with Coast Salish artwork on the exterior and interior of the vessel and is partnering with the First Peoples’ Cultural Council once again to facilitate the commission of an original design from a BC Coast Salish artist.

Salish Heron is the fourth Salish-Class vessel to join BC Ferries’ fleet and will sail in the Southern Gulf Islands starting in 2022. Salish Orca, Salish Eagle, and Salish Raven entered service in 2017, sailing between Comox and Powell River and in the Southern Gulf Islands. BC Ferries held a public naming contest for the Salish-Class ferries in 2015. Salish Heron was among the shortlisted names because it reflects both the West Coast travel experience and the culture of British Columbia.

A Call to Coast Salish artists is now open to invite expressions of interest and portfolios. The First Peoples’ Cultural Council will facilitate the process with an adjudication committee comprised of Indigenous artists and BC Ferries’ representatives. From the first round of submissions, the committee will select several artists to be shortlisted and commissioned to propose specific design concepts. From these proposals, one artist’s designs will be selected for final refinement, adhering to BC Ferries’ specifications for fabrication and application. Similar to the three previous Salish Class vessels, the primary design will be applied to the exterior of the vessel and elements of the design will also be used inside the vessel.

“We are excited to be continuing this partnership with BC Ferries as they celebrate this new vessel by honouring living Coast Salish art forms that have survived through generations,” said Sarah Pocklington, FPCC arts program manager. “This project raises the profile of Coast Salish artists in BC and shares the beauty of their work with an international audience. Providing space for Indigenous artists is a positive step towards reconciliation and a visual acknowledgment of the thriving cultures of the First Peoples of these waters.”

Working in partnership with the First Peoples’ Cultural Council to facilitate artwork commissioning, Darlene Gait from Esquimalt Nation was selected to design the artwork for the Salish Orca, John Marston from the Stz’uminus First Nation designed the artwork for the Salish Eagle, and the Salish Raven is adorned with an artistic design by Thomas Cannell from Musqueam.

The deadline for expressions of interest is May 10, 2021. Shortlisted artists will be contacted and invited to submit conceptual designs by June 14, 2021, and the final selection of artists will take place in late June. For full details of the call for artists, including submission guidelines, please visit the First Peoples’ Cultural Council website at

Submitted by BC Ferries

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