Framed Art Card - Witness (9"x 12")

Artist: Andy Everson

Thousands of years ago, a chief from our village was warned of an impending flood. He prepared four canoes and the strongest and best-looking K’omoks members and managed to escape the deluge. While floating around, they were approached by a large white whale and secured their rope to it. This whale—called Queneesh in the Comox Language—kept the people in their traditional territory. When the waters receded, the whale landed on the mountains overlooking the Comox Valley. It became the Comox Glacier where it remains witnessing the changes to the territory and watching out for the K’omoks First Nation to this day.

Oh, how the Comox Valley has changed! Queneesh has witnessed the rise and fall of our population and has seen both good and bad times amongst our people. It has seen the arrival of settlers and the growth of three different municipalities—Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland. Queneesh has witnessed the change in the role of the K’omoks people in their territory. Where once they were respectful custodians of the land and the sea, the last 100 years has seen that role diminish to mere lore and pageantry. Where once people would ask permission to enter the territory, they now buy and sell land with little deference to the K’omoks.

Our custom is to pay guests to witness our most sacred ceremonies. We have done this since time immemorial in order to both respect our guests and to preserve our oral-based culture. When modern organizations and businesses approach the K’omoks First Nation, we sit up and take note. They are an exception to the norm. We appreciate these steps in bridging gaps between our peoples and hope that the K’omoks people can once again play a prominent role in the local economy. The eagles in this print represent the connection between our two groups. They bear witness to a positive relationship beneath the slopes of Queneesh.

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