It has been a year since Mosaic Forests opened ʕaʔuk ʔaama k̓anis, the Loon Lake Campground, and the company marked the occasion by unveiling sculptures they commissioned from Hupačasath artist Rodney Sayers.
The celebration took place on July 1, at the edge of Loon Lake with the majestic Mount Arrowsmith looming over the other side of the water. Dozens of people walked down a short dirt path to the edge of the lake where the sculptures would be erected.
Rod Sayers thanked the crowd for coming. He noted that he had many people to thank, since the creation of the sculptures required teamwork.
The first sculpture features a tiitskin, or Thunderbird, with a grey whale and lightening snake. Pointing to Mount Arrowsmith, Sayers said his people know that it was Thunderbird that dropped a whale on the mountain. This was proven when whale bones were discovered on the mountain, Sayers explained.
It was important for Sayers to incorporate a reference to Mount Arrowsmith in his work, saying that the mountain represents Hupačasath’s eastern boundary.
According to Mosaic Forests, the sculptures were commissioned to frame the Hupačasath welcome kiosk, providing cultural information to the campground’s visitors. Mosaic donated the western red cedar used to create the sculptures.
The second sculpture features two loons, a “twoonie”, Sayers joked. The loons stand over a frog which is a reference to the supernatural.
It took twelve people to carry each pole down to the kiosk where they would stand, overlooking the lake.
“When they are lifted, I let them go…they are yours now,” Sayers said to the crowd.
He said Mosaic and Hupačsath commissioned the poles but they belong to all that come to the lake.
Singers and dancers performed Hupačasath songs before Ahousaht elder Moy Sutherland chanted a prayer he learned from his late father.
Sayers publicly thanked special guests after the sculptures were erected. Special guests included representatives from Mosaic Forests, Toquaht Tyee Ha̓wilth Ann Mack, Hupačasath’s elected chief and council, and Tseshaht Chief Councillor Ken Watts.
Hupacasath Chief Councillor Brandy Lauder said prior to summer 2022, Loon Lake, located near the Port Alberni Summit, was known as a party place, “where people burned palettes.” Now, it’s cleaned up and has several newly constructed campsites with a campground manager on site.