Landmarks - Public Art in the Capital Region


"Two Brothers" Spirit Poles by Butch Dick

"Two Brothers" Spirit Poles by Butch Dick
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Artwork DescriptionLekwungen Master Carver Butch Dick designed the traditional pole (right). Top Figure, Eagle: We believe that eagles are our ancestors watching over us. Our ancestors understood that the eagle possessed powerful eyesight that could bring us the ability to see what our families and our community would need in the future. Figure in the middle of the eagle: In order to understand our animal relatives better, we believe that there is a human side to each animal. The eagle, along with the human figure on the inside, captures the moment of transformation from eagle to human or vice versa. Wolf Figure: our observation of wolves gives us a sense of awe about their power, beauty and sense of family. Wolves live within a matriarchal system. This teaches that the voices of women are strong within our families. Coast Salish Otters: Otters are a symbol of special strength for those that require extra guidance or a spiritual uplift in time of need. Otters are also vessels to the underwater world, because they have the ability to live on both land and water. Grandmother Moon Encompassed by the Otters: As a way to bequeath knowledge, grandparents often raised the first born child in a family. If that child was a girl she would walk hand and hand with the grandparent and learn all the necessities of a Sni’ nu ulth’tel’nuxw (well-disciplined person). Grandmother moon constantly watches over us and is a reminder to all to conduct themselves in a respectful manner that is fitting to their family and community. Mamalilikulla Carver Clarence Dick Jr. designed the contemporary pole (left). Top Figure, Xe’els (The Transformer): Xe’els is the knowledge, the teacher and the creator of our teachings. Xe’els has the ability to transform into man or woman. We know that Xe’els lessons are not complete and we will still have much to learn from our creator’s mysterious ways. Blanket Border, Salmon Head: Salmon, the staple diet of the Lekwungen Peoples, were also believed to be humans underneath the skin. As a part of many Aboriginal community teachings, we have been taught to return the bones of the salmon to the ocean or river, to ensure a bountiful spawning season for the next year. Primary Blanket Design, Raven: Also known as the trickster, the raven has woven his teaching throughout the lands and history. The raven is a powerful and highly intelligent being, but is also mischievous and can find its way into other creatures’ worlds. Xe’els Blanket: The recipient of a blanket would have to be Sni’nu (well disciplined) as well as acknowledged as a leader by a community other than their own. No true leader of Ciem (honourable one) would admit to this status themselves; it would be a family and community role to ensure that they had adequate support and knowledge to maintain this role. Bottom Design: Mink: Mink shares many of the attributes of Raven. Mink is also known as a trickster and is often seen as a creator. Mink travelled throughout the mid-eastern region of Vancouver Island, teaching and showing what valuable resources each community had and what their responsibilities were.
Artwork Statement"Two Brothers" spirit poles were erected as part of revitalizing Centennial Square with the addition of a Spirit Square. “We give thanks to the “Two Brothers” (cedar trees) for allowing us to transform them into teachers that acknowledge the ability of aboriginal peoples to preserve and continue the cultural practices of their ancestors. We are proud that the City of Victoria has included the inherent keepers of Lekwungen Tung’uxw (Songhees Lands) in their transformation of this square.

About Butch Dick

Artist BioButch Dick is a master carver trained in fine art and graphic design. He has taught First Nations Art and Culture in School District 61 for more than 20 years and is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Victoria, teaching an Indigenous Learning course. Butch Dick also trained his two sons, Clarence Dick Jr. and Bradley Dick in the art of carving. Father and sons work closely together on aboriginal art projects.


Artwork TypeFirst Nations
MediumCarved and painted cedar
Unveiled dateJuly 23, 2009
Dimensionseach pole is 18' high
Reference #3853
SiteLocated at the south west corner of Centennial Square next to the McPherson Theatre, corner of Government Street and Pandora Avenue.
Art CategoryCivic Public Art
Selection ProcessCivic: Invitational / Commissioned
Municipality/NeighbourhoodVictoria: Downtown



Type of Artwork