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Coast Salish artist shares inspiration behind bright parklet artwork in North Vancouver

Squamish Nation artist Sinámkin, Jody Broomfield, adds Indigenous flair and meaning to a parklet in the City of North Vancouver. 🎨
Parklet Shipping Containter Beans
The City of North Vancouver parklet, on the corner of West 5th Street and Chesterfield Avenue, was painted by Coast Salish artist Jody Broomfield.

Sitting brightly on the corner of West 5th Street and Chesterfield Avenue is the City of North Vancouver’s latest parklet.

The parklet, made from a Seaspan shipping container, not only offers a covered space for residents to enjoy a coffee and a chat year-round outside of Bean Around The World, but it also shares Squamish Nation’s connection to the land and wildlife through a colourful Indigenous art design.

The man behind the mural, Coast Salish artist Sinámkin, Jody Broomfield, said he wanted to show "the deep-rooted Squamish Nation history of the North Shore” through the contemporary canvas.

Broomfield painted the shipping container in fall 2020 and it was installed and given its finishing touches in November. Just recently, it’s been given a little spring spruce up, with some newly planted flowers. 

“At the time I was inspired by the wildlife that you might see on the North Shore, and so that's what I included on the design – an eagle, a wolf, a bear, and a killer whale,” Broomfield explained.

“I just wanted to honour those animals throughout the North Shore and to share part of our Squamish Nation culture and our history as well, through artwork. There’s isn’t much Coast Salish art around in the general public, so that was my inspiration, just to share a part of who we are and where we come from.”

He hopes people will enjoy the space for years to come and embrace the message to respect the North Shore’s beautiful wildlife.

“It’s something to enjoy,” Broomfield said. “I hope it’ll catch their eye, and they’ll hopefully walk around and enjoy the whole design that I came up with.”

Broomfield, whose journey as an artist began in 1999, now has close to 10 public art pieces on the North Shore.  He works with many different mediums – wood, glass, ceramic, metal, stone – to expand his mind and creativity, and is currently carving the new Welcome Figure for Ecole Argyle Secondary.

“I've been an artist for most of my life,” he said. “I picked up a pencil and crayons at a young age and my inspiration came from my uncles who were carvers as well.”

Although, it was meeting his mentor, Klatle-Bhi, that really inspired him to commit to a career as an artist.

“I worked with him for nine years,” Broomfield said. “There was a time during that period when I worked with him that I committed to my artwork and I quit my full-time job. I knew in my heart that I wanted to go in the direction of being a full-time artist.”

The 44-year-old said while it was a tough decision to make, he was happy he made it and he was “ever so grateful” it had taken him down the path of creating public artworks for the North Shore and beyond.

The parklet is part of the city’s Open Streets initiative, which “encourages safe walking, cycling and business operations across the city by creating more space on streets and sidewalks.”

There are also a number of funky parklets on Lonsdale Avenue.

“City Council is committed to creating a vibrant city through active placemaking,” City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan said, in a video about the parklet posted to social media.

“These spaces provide the opportunity for people to connect, while we're being physically distanced.”

The West 5th neighbourhood parklet was made possible in partnership with the United Way of the Lower Mainland, Seaspan/SRY and Squamish Nation.

Broomfield's other public art pieces in North and West Vancouver can be found on the North Shore Culture Compass.

Elisia Seeber is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.