Skip to main content

Diane Luckow

SFU News Editor
Simon Fraser University
Assistant Director, Internal Communications

empty
Black Haida Canoe image
Black Haida Canoe installation at the Academic Quadrangle
Previously published in SFU NEWS Aboriginal Supplement December 2015 and in SFU News on Oct. 22, 2015.

Haida artist Bill Reid’s Black Eagle canoe is a symbol of knowledge, community and cultural regeneration, so its installation at SFU’s Burnaby campus is a fitting tribute to the University’s 50th Anniversary.

The fiberglass canoe is a replica of famed dugout canoe Loo Taas, which Reid and other First Nations artists carved from a 750-year-old cedar tree for Expo ’86. It was the first such canoe to be carved on the Northwest Coast in more than 100 years. The Black Eagle is one of four replica canoes, two of them commissioned for the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, where they were on display and also available for tourists wishing to paddle in the Ottawa River. The Black Eagle was later purchased by Charles and Gail Pancerzewski and donated to the Bill Reid Foundation, which loaned it to the VanDusen Botanical Garden.

To mark SFU’s 50th Anniversary, the Black Eagle was moved to the Burnaby campus and officially installed outdoors under the northeast corner of the Academic Quadrangle at a witnessing ceremony on Oct. 21. More than 100 community members from both the University and First Nations gathered for the ceremony.

“By asking people to come and witness the canoe installation, we were demonstrating that SFU has an important responsibility to care for this art piece, and to use it for educational purposes,”

- Bryan Myles, director of the Bill Reid Centre.

Myles, who organized the canoe’s move to SFU, says the ceremony aimed to uphold Coast Salish protocol in accordance with the Coast Salish lands on which SFU sits. SFU archaeologist Rudy Reimer, a member of the Squamish Nation, emceed the event. The ceremony included four witnesses: Nika Collison, curator, Haida Gwaii Museum, David Seymour, a member of the Mohawk Nation and funding services officer for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Herb Auerbach, founding director of the Bill Reid Foundation, and SFU archaeologist Alan McMillan.

“The University has made it our commitment to honour the history, culture and presence of Aboriginal peoples,

Bill Reid’s Black Eagle canoe represents the resiliency, creativity and vitality of Northwest Coast canoe cultures. We are honoured to become stewards of this canoe and to share what it represents with our students and the communities we serve.”

- SFU President Andrew Petter.

The Black Eagle is part of a $10-million First Nations art collection donated to SFU in 2011 from the Bill Reid Foundation.

About the Author

Diane Luckow

SFU News Editor
Simon Fraser University
Assistant Director, Internal Communications

You Might Like These... Indigenous SFU Community Stories, Professional Development, Life Experience, Personal Development, Career Exploration

Mike, author
Indigenous Stories: Mike, SFU Alumni

"I have no solid plans for the future and I love it...I know that every experience that I have had, every failed plan, was really an excellent mistake that gave me the skills I need to handle any situation that gets thrown my way in the future."  Read Mike's story of career exploration, and how to handle constant change.

william lindsay smiling
William Lindsay on Persistance

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence”. Through my life’s experience I can certainly attest to the truthfulness of these words.I hope lessons for others can be found in them. Hence, “Press On” friends and make your own dreams a reality! Read more about William Lindsay's journey and how they overcame life challenges. 

rudy smiling
Rudy Riemer/Yumk | SFU Department of First Nations Studies and Archaeology

"I grew up in Squamish BC, learning from elders and knowledgeable community members about Squamish Nation culture.  Many of my fondest memories are walking to downtown with my grandpa, sitting at my grand uncles kitchen table and going up the river to fish. During these formative years I was always careful to listen to what they had to say." 

You Might Like These... Indigenous SFU Community Stories

Turtle island banner
Voices from Turtle Island

Join Voices from Turtle Island from February 27th to March 1st, 2014. Spend the weekend celebrating written words from Turtle Island with a gathering of First Nations writers, critics, scholars, performers and anyone who enjoys Indigenous Literatures.

Archaeologist site
Eldon Yellowhorn; Archaeologist collaborates with Piikani Nation

Yellowhorn, an SFU professor of archaeology, has some of the answers how his ancestors adapted to farming and homesteading in the late 1800s.

Jeffrey Reading
Research Chair to Lead Heart Health Research for First Nations Peoples

“I am very excited by the opportunity to focus on prevention of cardiovascular disease and to improve heart health and well-being among First Nations in British Columbia.” Jeffrey Reading