8 incredible murals by Indigenous artists to discover in Vancouver

Many Indigenous artworks can be found all over Vancouver, and each one has an important story to tell.

Some of the most thought-provoking pieces throughout the traditional unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations are the dozens of Indigenous murals, many of which were created for the Vancouver Mural Festival (VMF).

During the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and throughout the year, you can discover these incredible artworks and learn about Indigenous culture, history, and more.

The winds and the waters will always call us home by Ocean Hyland

Location: 999 Canada Place, Vancouver

Hyland’s newest mural represents how all life is connected and how a reciprocal relationship ensures the well-being of everyone. The artwork includes Coast Salish elements, a visual representation of the changing tides, an orca dancing in the current, and the Pacific herring, a staple food source to many Salish Sea inhabitants.

The artwork was created in partnership with the Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society and the 5th International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5).

Location: Kingsway and East 12th Avenue, Vancouver

According to Vancouver Mural Festival, Blanketing The City – Part II – The Biltmore Hotel is the largest public art piece created by a Musqueam, Squamish, or Tsleilwaututh artist, on whose unceded territory Vancouver currently resides.

Debra Sparrow and Vancouver Mural Festival transform Coast Salish textile patterns into a series of giant murals. The one at the corner of Kingsway and East 12th Avenue is more than eight stories tall.

Other murals in the Blanketing The City series include Part IV at Cathedral Square and Part V at The Shipyards.

Location: 1295 Frances Street, Vancouver

Ellison-Dysart’s massive artwork reminds viewers that it is important to care for Turtle Island and all its inhabitants.

“Turtle Island is the name that various Indigenous nations have always called “North America” since time immemorial,” said Ellison-Dysart in a mural statement. “The name comes from oral histories and creation stories that tell of a turtle who holds the world on its back… Let’s not forget our responsibility to the life around us.”

Location: South-facing wall of Murrin Hydro Station at 700 Main Street, Vancouver

Chinese artist Emma Xie, Indigenous artist Chase Gray, and Black artist John Sebastian teamed up for the massive trio of murals that highlight the importance of representation.

The artwork is part of VMF’s Black Strathcona Resurgence Project (BSRP). According to an Instagram post shared by project Curator Krystal Paraboo, “The vision for this mural was to interweave Chinese, Black, and Indigenous culture and presence in a vibrant and dynamic manner, building towards a decolonized future collectively.”

Vancouver Mural Fest

Siobhan Joseph for VMF 2021 (Mavreen David / Submitted)

Location: 3044 Highland Boulevard, North Vancouver

Siobhan Joseph is a Squamish Nation artist and designer. Her VMF 2021 mural, Taking Care of Animals, is a contemporary design along with Coast Salish artistic influences.

“The three animals presented in the design represent the animals that humans most likely care for,” Joseph said in her artist statement. “The dog represents the four-legged mammals, the turtle represents the amphibians and reptiles, and the parrot represents the winged animals. I wanted to go for a more colourful palette and went with a monochromatic feel.”

Location: 531 Granville Street, Vancouver

Snekwem lane was created by local artists James Harry and Lauren Brevner, who turned the grey walls of the laneway into a canvas for a mural with blue, yellow, and salmon-red colours.

The design is their modern interpretation of a traditional Squamish First Nation story about how the salmon came to local waters, based on the story passed down to Harry by his father. It speaks of visitors with supernatural powers who, with the help of Snekwem (meaning the sun), led the Squamish people to the village of the salmon people.

Location: 2750 Granville Street, Vancouver (east wall, behind The Stanley Theatre).

Born and raised in Coast Salish territory, with an innate desire to make progressive change through art, voice and action, Carrielynn Victor is fueled by the passion to leave positive imprints within the earth and the people.

Victor’s VMF mural shows a trumpeter swan running on top of the water right before it takes off. The selected design style uses shapes found in traditional Salish woven patterns and colours to create hard-edged three-dimensional shapes throughout the piece.

Location: 1203 Davie Street, Vancouver

Margaret August is a Two-Spirit, Salish Artist born and living in the Lkwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ territories — now referred to as Victoria, BC. Their art piece depicts two Coast Salish thunderbirds that surround a human figure in the middle.

August said the human in the piece represents Two-Spirit people “because they bring special gifts to the world and offer spiritual medicine to the people.”

“The combination of thunderbird and Two-Spirit people represents transformation,” they said.