Downtown Pemberton gets new street banners

Last week, the Village of Pemberton announced it’s newest street banners along Portage Road would feature the work of Lil’wat artist, Levi Nelson.

We’ve featured Levi on the Wellness Almanac over the years, and he did one of my favourite takeovers the instagram account.

I wrestled a little bit to put into words why this makes my spirit sing… and I’d love your help. If you think this is great, drop a comment, or send me an email… I’m keen to be able to articulate why this means so much to me.

I think it’s an important gesture of recognition that we live on the unceded traditional territory of the Lil’wat Nation… but that is a kind of head-argument, in some ways, and it can take a lot of study, and years, to really unpack and understand the impact of.

My heart, however, celebrates immediately and without complication, because:

1. Levi Nelsonis a mind-blowingly talented artist, and I think his career is going to soar to international recognition, so the fact we get to celebrate him right here as we cruise through our daily lives is our privilege.


2. I love that we will be reminded every day, so beautifully, that this place and this community is much richer than we might typically realize. I feel as though it has the chance to expand our hearts and minds and our definitions of community and place. That’s what art can do. Expand us. And our relationship to place and each other.

Read on for the rest of the Village’s media release announcing the new street banners.


Creatures of Land & Water, 2016. Art by Levi Nelson



Medicine Man Summoning the Spirits 2017. Art by Levi Nelson

The pieces, entitled ‘Medicine Man Summoning the Spirits’ and ‘Creatures of Land & Water’, were created in the Woodland Cree Style, an art movement originated by Ojibwe artist Norval Morrisseau, a member of the Indigenous Group of Seven. Nelson incorporates the legends and cultural practices of theLil̓wat7ul people.

The banners also include the Ucwalmícwts place name for Pemberton, ‘Nkwukwma’, a word commonly used for the Pemberton area in the 1940’s.  The Village is grateful to the Lil’wat Culture, Heritage and Language Authority for their permission to use the word on the banners.

“As a member of the Lil’wat Nation and a lifetime local of Mount Currie and the Pemberton Valley, this project is something that I am very interested and passionate about,” says Nelson. “I see it as an important step on behalf of the Village of Pemberton in demonstrating an appreciation for the local First Nations culture and perhaps practicing reconciliation in the process; this is a very positive project that I would love to be a part of.”

Levi is currently in his third year at the Emily Carr University of Art & Design.  Earlier this year, Nelson won the coveted IDEA Art Award, landing his artwork on the walls of Vancouver General Hospital and UBC Hospital, as part of their permanent collection.

In the Spring of 2019, the Village will be installing banner wraps on utility boxes throughout downtown, Signal Hill Elementary and at the Industrial Park featuring other works from Levi’s collection.

“We are so proud and honoured to feature the incredible works of Levi Nelson. His pieces tell us important stories from our past and the land that we live on,” says Mayor Mike Richman. “Indigenous art has an integral role in developing a common understanding of our shared history. My hope is Levi’s banners inspire and act as an agent for conversation and change.”

To learn more about Levi and his artwork, check out his Facebook page and Instagram.

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