First Nations art design unveiled for new BC Ferries vessel

First Nations art design unveiled for new BC Ferries vessel

After conducting a competition within the First Nations artist community, a design has been selected for the exterior livery and interior art of the Salish Heron, one of BC Ferries’ newest vessels.

The design by Maynard Johnny Junior of the Penelakut First Nation was chosen from a shortlist of nine artists who were commissioned to create design concepts.

Johnny was amongst the 36 artists who applied and indicated their interest, after BC Ferries partnered with the First Peoples’ Cultural Council, which oversaw the design competition on behalf of the ferry corporation. The initial callout for submissions began early this year.

He says his design reflects the long beak and long neck of a Great Blue Heron, and its wing, tail feathers, and talon.

“Herons and my people once inhabited the area in what is now known as the town of Chemainus,” said Johnny.

“The majestic birds were once plentiful and provided the people guidance on where fish were in abundance. I have created a Salish Heron using traditional Salish design with contemporary colours that have become my signature as a Coast Salish artist… I wanted to create a Salish Heron that was fascinating to the viewer and was obvious to the eye yet kept a flow of design and colour.”

bc ferries salish heron

Art design for the Salish Heron vessel by Maynard Johnny Junior of the Penelakut First Nation. (BC Ferries)

Shortlisted artists were provided with an honorarium to further develop their design. As the winning artist, Johnny has been awarded a $15,000 licensing fee for the use of his final design.

Salish Heron is the fourth ship in BC Ferries’ new Salish Class of intermediate-capacity vessels, joining the Salish Eagle, Salish Orca, and Salish Raven, which went into service in 2017. The first three vessels were also adorned with unique Indigenous art.

Each Salish Class vessel carries a capacity of at least 138 vehicles and up to 600 passengers and crew. They are dual-fuel powered vessels, capable of using liquified natural gas or diesel.

The Salish Heron will begin its operations in 2022, serving the Southern Gulf Islands, and allowing for the retirement of the diesel-fuelled Mayne Queen vessel.

In another update, BC Ferries’ last in a series of six hybrid-electric Island Class vessels transited through the Panama Canal on November 18, after departing from the shipyard in Romania on its own power for the Trans-Atlantic journey on October 11. This vessel serving minor routes is expected to arrive in BC before the end of 2021.