Indigenous-led mural project will encourage visitors and residents to learn about reconciliation

COURTENAY, July 27 2022 – Quw’utsun elders and youth, the Cowichan Intercultural Society, the City of Duncan, the Duncan United Church, and other community organizations are working together to create an artistic mural display to foster cultural understanding and promote cultural tourism, with funding support from the Community Placemaking Program.

These organizations have formed Nanum‘Iyus Tth’ele (Meeting of Joyful Heart) to establish reconciliation murals at two locations in downtown Duncan. The project is being guided by Cowichan Tribes Elders and youth to celebrate Qu’wutsun culture and heritage.

“This is a major step for reconciliation, building meaningful connections in the community and a better understanding of each other,” stated Councillor Albie Charlie, Whulquletse, of Cowichan Tribes’ Council.

The goal of this project is to beautify downtown Duncan in an inclusive way, continuing conversations about reconciliation started by the Hul’q’umi’num’ Signage Project in 2019.

“During the pandemic, we all worked together install bilingual Hul’q’umi’num’ and English street signs on seven streets in the downtown core as an example of reconciliation in action,” explains Amanda Vance, Executive Director of the Cowichan Intercultural Society. “That project was an act of solidarity in response to news that some businesses were refusing to serve Cowichan members due to Covid-19 cases on reserve. We hope that this new project will further increase the comfort of Cowichan Tribes members in downtown Duncan.”

The Nanum ‘Iyus Tth’ele mural project came together as partners in the Hul’q’umi’num’ Signage Project went on walks together through downtown.

“I remember the first time the group of Elders working on this project walked around town with us sharing stories of places where they were segregated, others that were unwelcoming, and those that still are unwelcoming. Then they began to speak about their hope for the future and the importance of us working together to build that future. The murals reflect that hope for the future and our commitment to building it together,” stated City of Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples.

The art mural installations will be designed by a collective of Coast Salish artists and apprentices and will include multimedia components such as a QR code leading to Hul’q’umi’num’ words, songs, or stories. Mural themes will include the past, present, and future of reconciliation, reframed in Hul’q’umi’num’ as ‘thu-itsthuw tun shqwaluwun’ (be truthful with your feelings). The mural panels will be movable to allow for the possibility of sharing throughout the region.

“We’re honoured to contribute to this beautiful Quw’utsun-led placemaking initiative in Duncan. Seeing Indigenous languages and cultures living, used, taught and celebrated throughout First Nations’ respective territories in all communities is an important part of building healthy and resilient communities across the coast,” stated Brodie Guy, CEO, Island Coastal Economic Trust.

The project will receive $50,000 through a collaborative funding arrangement between the Island Coastal Economic Trust and the Targeted Regional Tourism Development Initiative (through 4VI), which provides one-stop funding support of up to 100% of project costs to stimulate and promote vitality in downtowns, Main Streets and business districts across the region.

“We gratefully acknowledge the Province of BC for the funding to support the Community Placemaking Program and help community projects such as this be realized,” says Anthony Everett, President & CEO, 4VI. “This highly collaborative initiative syncs with growing trends in cultural and educational tourism and showcases the strong history of the Quw’utsun peoples.”

The Nanum‘Iyus Tth’ele group sees this project as a pilot to gauge interest and capacity for an annual, multi-cultural mural festival that would continue to highlight Indigenous artists and reconciliation. This initiative is expected to get underway shortly, beginning with a Call to Artists to be released this summer.

All applications to the Community Placemaking Program are now accepted on an ongoing basis until the program is fully subscribed. For more information, please visit our website:


About Island Coastal Economic Trust
Founded by the Province of British Columbia in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust works to build a sustainable and resilient coastal economy in reciprocal relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and islands and inlets from the Salish Sea to Cape Caution. Serving over half a million residents, we partner with communities in the development and financing of their economic infrastructure and diversification efforts through our unique structure that is led by, and accountable to, communities.

Since our inception, Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved more than $55 million to economic development initiatives that have attracted over $270 million in new investment to our region. These investments have created over 2,750 permanent jobs, and countless positive impacts, across the coast.

Island Coastal Economic Trust acknowledges that we work for communities across the ancestral and unceded territories of the Kwak̓wala, Nuučaan̓uɫ, Éy7á7juuthem, Ligwilda’xw, Pəntl’áč, she shashishalhem, Hul’q’umi’num’, diitiidʔaatx̣, SENĆOŦEN, Lekwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.

For more information, please visit

Brodie Guy
Island Coastal Economic Trust