This is a very meaningful piece for me. It’s about the relationship between my Auntie and I. My parents chose my Auntie Lindy as my godmother when I was very young. I used to call her son my god-brother and everyone used to laugh about that because there was no such thing. When my parents passed on she explained right away, that it was her job as well as my Uncle John’s, to take over now, as my parents. It always felt like she was that person for me anyway. She was always there for me. She’s helped and guided me and been a strong force in my life. She said to me, ‘”I’ve watched you do many things, but when you finally started doing art, I felt that you were really doing what you were supposed to be doing.”
In the Saanich way your aunts and uncles teach you. My Auntie Lindy has been a spiritual guide to me, always. She is a strong woman. A star woman. Her name is COSINIYE.
Because of my connection to my Auntie as a child and growing up, I have always valued her beauty and her name, which was given to her by my Grandpa David. When my last daughter was born, two days after my Aunt’s birthday, I followed tradition and asked if she would allow me to use her name for my daughter. This was a big thing to ask and a large gift to receive. My daughter was one day old when my Auntie came to my house. She held my newborn girl in her arms for a long time. She also brought her granddaughter, who shares that name, with her. They were very quiet, sitting together, much exchanged between them. Something beautiful always happens in those times.
She honored me that day, she gave the gift of her name to my youngest daughter.
My daughter shared a birthday with her Great Auntie last year. A present I had for my Auntie was a Swan Drum. Finally I could give a gift back to her. A way to acknowledge her for all her guidance and steadfastness in my life. In Saanich she’s one of the Keepers of the Songs. Not only can she sing them, but she receives them, she’s a composer for our people and also a beautiful singer.
This image, the design of the swan, is like a hand. It specifically has the look of a drum behind it because it originally was painted as the Swan Drum for my Auntie. The design invokes sound and grace and it mirrors the Keeper of Songs that my Auntie represents. The stripe across the top of T-shapes, is a design I saw on an older piece that really seemed to fit into this design. It’s contemporary, but there are elements of the past, like her.
This piece is in honor of my Auntie.
– Chris Paul
Chris Paul (born 1970) is a member of the Tsartlip Band of the Cost Salish peoples, located near Brentwood Bay on Vancouver Island. Apprenticing with Floyd Joseph and Roy Henry Vickers, Paul emerged as an artist with his own style of depicting heritage with strong modern colours. Each event in his life evokes a new image, which he transforms into art. Paul’s works range from fine jewelry to woodcarvings and serigraphs.