Soul of a Wolf – Artist’s Statement
stqéyə - Staqeya ( 2012-2020 )
In 2012, a lone wolf braved the strong ocean currents and swam to Tl’Ches, also known as Chatham (Stsnaang) and Discovery (Skingeenis) island. This is the traditional territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən people, the Songhees First Nation. The wolf made his home here, on these ancestral lands for the next eight years. In the spring of 2020 Staqeya swam to Victoria and was subsequently relocated and killed by a hunter.
This artwork stands as a memorial to honour stqéyə, expressing respect for lək̓ʷəŋən and gratitude to Songhees and Knowledge Keepers for their trust, and sharing stories that speak to their culture and the sacred significance of the wolf.
The lək̓ʷəŋən (Lekwungen) word for wolf is stqéyə (Staqeya) and is honoured in the oral traditions of storytelling. The origin story, “The Man of the Land” has helped carry language and teach the culture from one generation to the next. Respecting the language and honouring the name acknowledges the ancestors who have taken care of the story.stqéyə (staqeya) is the spiritual embodiment of the story and just as this stone is a slow poem of time, stqéyə is the Man of the Land.
The sculpture is carved from a locally sourced marble boulder that has been in the world for thousands of years, whispering stories carried by wind and water, shaped by the forces of nature and culture, monument to cultural teachings from the natural world.
The carvings like cave paintings, share stories congealed in geology and mystery, weaving together the natural and supernatural worlds with spiritual power.
The portal through the stone offers a lens, a tunnel of light, directing one’s gaze onto the sacred Lekwungen lands, where big houses have slept for over 3,000 years. This is where one finds the trails of the wolf, where he lived, slept, roamed and hunted. When you look through the portal, imagine Staqeya howling across the Salish Sea. A poetic and profound acknowledgment of the land.
The piece also pays homage to the late Songhees Nation Chief Robert Sam (1936-2012), a survivor of the Kamloops Residential School at Tk'emlps te Secwépemc. Staqeya arrived on Tl"ches soon after the Chief passed away. The wolf was a source of strength, and a sign the Chief was still with them, personifying courage, resilience, and leadership, guiding others to a better place.
The story of Staqeya is a powerful one, helping us look back and learn, so we can move forward together towards the lands of Truth and Reconciliation.
Deepest thanks, Hy’sx’qe siam, to Chief Ron Sam, the Songhees and Esquimalt nation and their ancestors, the communities of Oak Bay and the James Foundation.
Kent Laforme, 2023