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The Spindle Whorl


It was a special week for the community of Lantzville, as an art piece commissioned by artist lessLIE (Penelakut/Quwutsun) was unveiled. lessLIE has lived with his partner and daughter in Snaw-naw-as Territory for many years, and was delighted to be invited to fulfill a commission at home. His finished piece, a steel spindle whorl, was unveiled in front of the Lantzville District Office last Friday: lessLIE, along with Mayor Mark Swain exchanged good words and handshakes during the event. Following the unveiling I reached out to lessLIE to ask him more about the design. I was curious to learn not only about the meaning, but to also understand the history of spindle whorls. lessLIE generously offers:

"I wanted to create a work that would be mediational in some way -- mediational between the village of Lantzville and the Nation of Snaw-naw-as. The spindle whorl, iconic in Coast Salish culture, symbolizes this history. It is abstract to represent spirituality. At the same time, it characterises the mining history of Lantzville; it is also a wheel to represent this. The rusting evokes age and history, as well as wood with a patina (such as on artifacts in museums), and the design is an abstraction of the sun, hills, water, and sand dollars in Lantzville geography.” lessLIE goes on to share, "Spindle whorls are functional in creating wealth (weavings) and also contain great historical examples of relief carving."

lessLIE’s spindle whorl reminded me of something I learned from my friend, Jenn Smith of Tlowitsis First Nation. Jenn once explained to me that during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Senator Murray Sinclair never offered a definition of what reconciliation was. I love the idea that what reconciliation means can be unique to individuals and communities, and that we are invited to pursue our own journey in a very individualized way. lessLIE’s installation is such a powerful example of how art can be utilized to symbolize the work and relationships necessary in reconciling our past, and will stand as a constant reminder outside of our municipal building for each community members to see and reflect upon every time they enter the buildings doors. As a society, there are so many ways we can move the work of reconciliation forward, and I raise my hands to lessLIE and the community of Lantzville for demonstrating this idea so beautifully.

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