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Overpass Thunderbird

Xwalacktun, Rick Harry
Year: 2012
  • Functional Art
  • Cement / Concrete
Status: In Place


These concrete trusses hold up a pedestrian bridge over Highway 99 leading into Squamish. One side features a the head of a thunderbird and the other side features concrete serpent heads.

Artist Statement

I designed the two sides of the truss wall as First Nations art pieces. Northbound Sea to Sky travellers heading into Squamish are greeted by a thunderbird on their right as they travel toward Black Tusk. Southbound travellers leaving Squamish see an interpretation of a serpent head on their left as they approach the Stawamus Chief. In Squamish Nation legend, the thunderbird used Black Tusk as a perching place and the serpent travelled up the face of the Chief. There are spears along the bridge itself which is how the serpent was killed, and there are also orange handprints at the base of the structure, which represent the children and which were painted as part of a ceremony once the overpass sculpture was completed.”

Xwalacktun, also known as Rick Harry, is a descendant of Squamish and Kwakwak’wakw ancestry. He creates native art that bridges the past, present, and future, echoing the traditions of his ancestors. With a deep spiritual connection, he collaborates with clients to infuse each piece with personal narratives, breathing life into his creations.

Specializing in Coast Salish style, Xwalacktun seamlessly blends tradition with contemporary expression, catering to a diverse clientele from individuals to corporations. His artworks transcend decoration, becoming cherished treasures and iconic landmarks.

He has adorned prestigious locations with his commissioned works, from intricately carved doors at B.C. Hydro and the University of Victoria First People’s House to striking sculptures at the Audan Museum in Whistler. His craftsmanship has earned accolades including the Georgie Award in 2002 and the Arthur G. Hayden Medal at the 31st Annual International Bridge Conference Awards.

Driven by a commitment to excellence and cultural preservation, Xwalacktun continues to push boundaries in native art, leaving an indelible mark on both the artistic landscape and the communities he serves.


1410, Totem Drive, Squamish, British Columbia, V0N 1T0, Canada.

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