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When the Salmon Come to Squamish Waters

Siobhan Joseph
Year: 2021
  • Decorative
  • Vinyl Decal
Status: In Place


This large window vinyl across the front of the Squamish library depicts the Squamish legend, “Why the Salmon Come to Squamish Waters.” It features a Coast Salish design of circular figures around one central figure and figures rowing on a river of salmon..

Artist Statement

The legends speaks of a time when humans and animals were the same, and four brothers who went about doing good came to the Squamish People’s village, when the chief asked them if they could bring salmon to their shores. The brothers agreed, and went on the search for the Salmon People. Heading on the long journey west, the brothers got the villagers to follow behind in their canoes, paddling for days until they reached an island village, home of the Salmon People. Once there, they offered herbs and medicine to the village’s Salmon Chief, who, in gratitude, told the four brothers to swim up the creek to a waiting fish trap. As soon as the water reached their faces, they transformed into salmon. Later, after four days of feasts, the eldest brother explained to the village chief why they had come, to request that he allow some of his Salmon People travel upstream to the Squamish. The chief agreed, on one condition: that they promise to throw all the salmon bones back into the water, as they had watched his people do. The brothers and Squamish People agreed. As they were leaving, the chief told his guests that he would send spring salmon to them first in the season, then sockeye, then coho, then the chum, and last of all, the humpback. Ever since, the different salmon have reached Squamish waters every season, in that order. I think it’s one of my favourite legends. It’s our custom that when you take something from the water, you bring it back and it will help bring back more salmon.”

Siobhan Joseph is a Squamish Nation artist who has been steadily building her reputation as a muralist and painter. She describes her paintings as a reflection of both “traditional” styles of the Indigenous peoples of the Northwest coast of British Columbia and more “realistic” portrayals of animals.


Squamish, British Columbia, V8B, Canada.

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