The Lake Cowichan First Nation logo that has been depicted on our letterhead, signage, website and adorned by our membership on various articles of clothing was designed by Hupacasath First Nation artist Chuuch-kamuthnee (Ron Hamilton). Ron met with Chief Chehelum (Cyril Livingstone) and members of his council back in 2008 to begin the process of coming up with a new logo that would be representative of who the Lake Cowichan First Nation were and reference their rich history. In 2012 Lake Cowichan First Nation had a follow-up meeting to go into details of how the logo was conceived and the important historical and cultural context that it possesses. The outcome of the said meeting is what is articulated below. Chief Chehelum has chosen to share this story in an effort to educate and share the culture and heritage of his people and to show the world that Lake Cowichan First Nation is alive and well.
The logo has a number of references including: land, sky, mythology, our beliefs, and our territory. The reference to the land is in the form of the black circle in the middle, which represents a cave. In recollection of speaking with the late Gilbert Livingstone, it was recalled that he talked about the Tsu-baas-aht people from this area. “That was the word he used for the people from here, Lake Cowichan people. Tsu-baas-aht would translate to water flowing by a house, or water flowing through a house. Gilbert said that Tsu-baas-aht had been gifted by a family of wolves with knowledge and ceremony. The ceremony is called the Tluu-kwala. This ceremony involves wolves and on either side of the cave, there’s a pair of wolves that split and come down over. Their tails wrap up in the top of the logo and you can see the hip, the hind foot, the head, and the forepaw, in the front as this is the body”.
The two wolves referenced above guard the entrance to the cave. Inside the cave are where the family of wolves is, and where all of the ceremonies that belong to the Chiefs arrive from. There are slight differences from side to side, as one wolf is a male, and the other is female. If you look at their teeth, you will see that they have different teeth. The reasoning behind having one male and one female is that everything in our culture and communities, all sorts of masks and things come in pairs, male and female. Our logo was made to include that aspect, to translate that man and women in this community could feel that they’re a part of what’s going on. They’re involved in this process that engages ceremonies, history, and so on.
The reference to the sky is in the entrance to the cave, as there’s a white star in the way of the four-way split. In the middle, there’s a red star. That’s representative of the North Star and how our people historically utilized this as a beacon when they were travelling, through night and at sea. When they used to travel they would use this as their homing device, they were able to take their direction from the North Star.
The reference to mythology and beliefs is from the fact that our ancestors were very closely connected to their territory. Traditionally speaking ones territory is not just land; it includes land, rivers, lakes, streams, and sea territories. It also includes everything that falls within your tribal boundaries.
The use of red paint is always celebratory in nature, so it’s a celebration of life. And oftentimes, black has to do with death and war. Again this is an example of coming full circle with life.