Carved cedar doors by St'at'imc artist Saul Terry now grace the entrance to a 300-seat in-the-round lecture theatre in the new Brown Family House of Learning at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.
Terry's impressive double doors depict the life cycle of the salmon, with the fish moving clockwise and counter-clockwise around the glistening and fragrant cedar. The doors also incorporate other St'at'imc symbols, including eagles and a bear claw.
"The salmon are incredibly important because they feed our people, the birds and the animals," said Terry.
The new theatre is the largest in-the-round theatre in BC, surpassing Vancouver's Wosk Centre.
The $32 million building officially opened on Thursday, May 26. In addition to the lecture theatre, the building features a library, classrooms, study areas, computer labs, faculty offices and a Tim Horton's outlet.
The "jewel" of the building is the lecture theatre, according to TRU vice-president Christopher Seguin. It is modeled after a traditional Salish s'7istken, or winter pit house.
While he is well known for his service as an aboriginal leader, chief, Grand Chief and former president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Terry is also a gifted artist with a degree from the Emily Carr College of Art and Design. He studied with masters Robert Davidson and Bill Reid and works in many media, including sculpture, painting and carving.
"I've worked in wood before, on masks and items carved out of cedar, but these (the doors) were a bit different," he said with understatement
Terry was given the commission to create the doors last winter and began working on the challenging project in January.
He said the wood for the doors came from the Chehalis area, where the rescued wood was "dragged out by Danny Dimm." Scott Bodaly, another Lillooet resident, did the laminating work on the doors.
"Lillooet is well-represented in this project," Terry told the News.