K’ómoks First Nation artist designs mural for new North Island College student housing building

K’ómoks First Nation artist designs mural for new North Island College student housing building
North Island College
A rendering of the new student building featuring Mitchell’s mural “The Knowledge Keeper.” Rendering by HDR Inc. and design by Pamela Mitchell.

Since the age of five, K’ómoks First Nation artist Pamela Mitchell has been creating various forms of art, including weaving, regalia making, carving and sewing. But her newest work of art — a mural set to be displayed on the outside of North Island College’s new student housing buildings — will be her biggest project yet in terms of size.

“This is one of the projects that I was involved with to make sure that I brought a K’ómoks Indigenous lens to the project,” she said in an interview with The Discourse.

She added she will continue to work with the college in the future on more art projects.

The mural is called “The Knowledge Keeper, and features a button blanket — a traditional blanket created and worn by the Kwakwaka’wakw and Haida — with two frogs on either side of the student housing building. The frogs bookend the building’s bridge, which connects both sides of the structure.

Mitchell said the frog reflects knowledge and the button blanket wraps the college’s community together to bridge their future selves with their current selves.

In a news release from North Island College, she added that the frog also brings wealth and power as he travels and lives in the two worlds of water and land.

Alongside being an artist, Mitchell is the cultural coordinator for K’ómoks First Nation. She is from Kwakwaka’wakw territory, and learned to incorporate Kwakwaka’wakw style into her artwork. She has also recently begun incorporating Coast Salish style into her work and describes her art as a modern version of Northwest Coast style.

Mitchell’s art varies in style and includes cedar weaving and jewelry as well. Photo courtesy of Cedar Bark Gallery.

At North Island College, work for the new student buildings began in mid-March. They will provide 217 beds for students, split between two buildings that are connected by a bridge, with common areas throughout.

According to a news release from the province, the housing project is set to be complete by summer 2025. Students are expected to move in by the fall 2025 semester.

The college will hire help to make large panels for Mitchell’s mural and a company has also been hired to attach the panels to the building.

Mitchell said it was tricky to adjust her work for a design this large, especially because she had to make sure the designs were placed correctly so the rivets of the building weren’t interfering with the art.

Overall, she’s excited to see the mural go up.

“I’m hoping it’ll bring great pride to the K’ómoks People to have more K’ómoks artists represented in the valley in more high-profile areas,” she said in the news release.

Mitchell has more ongoing art projects, and just completed the logo for the Puntledge RV Campground. Her work can also be found at I-Hos Gallery, located on the site of the original K’ómoks village, as well as her family’s gallery, Cedar Bark Gallery.

Madeline Dunnett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse

Local Journalism InitiativeLocal Journalism Initiative

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!