Rivers Have Mouths

Rivers Have Mouths

Jun 12 – Sep 12, 2021

Kelly Cannell – ʔəy̓xʷatəna:t | Angela George – qʷənat | Rick Harry – Xwalacktun | Laiwan – 朱麗雲 | Sarah Ling – 凌慧意 | Cease Wyss – T’uy’t’tanat | Lam Wong – 王藝林

Rivers feed, nourish, and cleanse our bodies. 
Rivers carry us, and have carried our ancestors. 
Rivers hold secrets, and rivers tell stories. 
Rivers have mouths.  

- Sarah Ling 


After navigating turbulent waters as our communities continue to face the challenges of a global pandemic, this program is a reminder of resilience and agency our peoples have had for generations. 

Rivers Have Mouths was born out a desire to call attention to our interconnected histories and lived experiences on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. The artists who have joined our exchange highlight and honour the stories of Chinese-Indigenous relations and connections to land both past and present. 

Rivers are like the trajectory of our histories and move with the ow of time. As a cultural anchor in the historic neighbourhood of Chinatown, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is an important space to create this awareness and strengthen our future. Our responsibilities to each other must not be neglected or forgotten. Many of the challenges our communities have faced historically such as systemic discrimination and racism against Indigenous and Asian peoples are critical to put into conversation with the ongoing and everyday impacts of colonialism. 

Our hope for this exhibition, as part of the year-long program “Solidarity” is to foster empathy, understanding and solidarity between our communities as we envision what wellness and recovery looks like at both the individual and collective level. 

We invite you to join us on this journey.


Kelly Cannell – ʔəy̓xʷatəna:t

Kelly Cannell is a Coast Salish artist from the Musqueam Nation in Vancouver, British Columbia.  At a very young age Kelly began to explore her career in art. Her worldwide travels throughout the years and her connection to nature have been the foundation of her inspiration.  While familiar with many different mediums, Kelly has pursued her passion for glass, studying at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington, The Glass Furnace in Istanbul, Turkey and was recently awarded a contemporary art scholarship to the Berengo Glass Studio in Murano, Italy where she worked with Venetian master glass blowers.  Kelly has also continued her studies at Emily Carr University in silk screen printing and acrylic painting.  Constantly redefining her style and perspective, Kelly continues to challenge herself by expanding on traditional themes as well as pushing the boundaries of contemporary Coast Salish art.

Kelly’s public works can been seen locally throughout the City of Vancouver: Cast iron storm sewer covers (with Susan Point), Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) downtown office, Vancouver Community College -Broadway campus, Musqueam Community Centre, West Broadway – Stone medallion art, Granville at 70th Westbank Development, Light Box Mural -Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Hamilton St.


Angela George – Sits’sáts’tenat/Qwənat

Angela George carries two ancestral names, sits’sáts’tenat and qwənat. Originally from Sḵwxwú7mesh and Sts’ailes, Angela is married to Gabriel George, and lives and works in the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (səlilwətaɬ) in North Vancouver. Angela is a proud mother of 4 children and grandmother of 3, heavily engaged in the səlilwətaɬ and larger Coast Salish community on many levels. Angela has an extensive background in First Nations social and cultural development, community engagement, education and health planning.

This Coast Salish weaver has dedicated her career to the betterment of First Nations people and communities. Traditionally groomed, she has a strong understanding of her culture and spiritual teachings and the impacts of colonization and barriers that plague First Nations communities. She has a strong passion in traditional canoe racing, weaving and cultural singing and dancing and believes that reviving and practicing traditions and having a strong sense of identity and connection to our ancestors is vital to community wellness, development and sustainability.

Angela has completed her MBA in Indigenous Business Leadership at SFU. She designed and created a 10’ Weaving Governance panel for her final Capstone Project, researching traditional laws of the land and sacred waters of the Burrard Inlet, to help re-instate the value of Coast Salish weavings as Holders of Knowledge and living and guiding documents. Angela is humbled by the gift of weaving—she holds this connection to her late mother and Sḵwxwú7mesh ancestry and səlilwətaɬ connections dearly, and carries the gift of weaving with integrity and responsibility to share in a way that helps to create awareness, stewardship and harmony within our communities.


Rick Harry – Xwalacktun

Xwalacktun (Rick Harry) was born and raised in Squamish. He carries with him the rich ancestries of his father’s (Squamish Nation) and mother’s (Kwakwakw’wakw Nation) of the Coast Salish clans. His father, Pekultn, carried a hereditary chieftainship from Seymour Creek in North Vancouver. He would like to acknowledge Capilano College and Emily Carr College of Art for teaching him the skills to have a start in his career. His endurance and commitment through trial and error helped propel him forward as an artist. 

Xwalacktun is an accomplished artist in wood, paper, stone, glass and metals. Healing, growth and raising an awareness of the environment are central themes in Xwalacktun’s work. By focusing on how the traditional stories relate to his own life, he suggests to us how to use this ancient knowledge to help heal ourselves and our community. The giving out of positive energy and seeing it come back through the young people is the reward that continues to feed his spirit so that he can give back to others.
Xwalacktun’s works are seen throughout Vancouver and the surrounding areas, and his works are recognized internationally. Early in 2013, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and in 2012 he received the prestigious honour of the Order of British Columbia (O.B.C.) for his many contributions to various communities. He is also a recipient of the “FANS” Honour Award from the North Vancouver Arts Council which acknowledged his commitments both locally and world-wide.


Laiwan – 朱麗雲

LAIWAN is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and educator with a wide-ranging practice based in poetics and philosophy. Born in Zimbabwe of Chinese parents, her family immigrated to Canada in 1977 to leave the war in Rhodesia. Her art training began at the Emily Carr College of Art & Design (1983), and she returned to academia to receive an MFA from Simon Fraser University School for Contemporary Arts (1999). Recipient of numerous awards, including recent Canada Council and BC Arts Council Awards, and the 2008 Vancouver Queer Media Artist Award, Laiwan has served on numerous arts juries, exhibits regularly, curates projects in Canada, the US, and Zimbabwe, is published in anthologies and journals, and is a cultural activist.

Based on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, LAIWAN founded the OR Gallery in 1983 in Vancouver, Canada, and she teaches in the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts Program at Goddard College, WA. USA. She currently is a member of the City of Vancouver’s Public Art Committee; along with the City’s Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group and Heritage and Culture Working Group, active in the transformation and revitalization of Vancouver’s Chinatown.


Sarah Ling – 凌慧意

Sarah Ling is an interdisciplinary storyteller and scholar born in Prince Rupert, BC on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Tsimshian people. She specializes in community engagement, storytelling, content development and project management for public history and cultural heritage initiatives. Her research background is on Chinese-Indigenous relations in BC. She produced the award-winning documentary “All Our Father’s Relations” and co-edited the publications “Journeys of Hope: Challenging Discrimination and Building on Vancouver Chinatown’s Legacies” and “Chinatown Through a Wide Lens: The Hidden Photographs of Yucho Chow.” She serves as the Chair of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC and on Vancouver’s Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee.

Cease Wyss – T’uy’t’tanat

Cease Wyss’ | T’uy’t’tanat’ diverse heritage includes Sḵwxwú7mesh, Stó:lō, Irish-Métis, Hawaiian and Swiss. She has extensive experience producing a wide variety of media art for almost 30 years: digital media, installations, public art, community based/engaged dialogues, storytelling, medicine gathering, sharing traditional knowledge, creating and building communities, land and wetlands, restoration and remediation, and collective and collaborative processes. 

She works as an ethnobotanist with traditional training by Indigenous elders. Wyss combines culturally focused teaching with storytelling as a means to share knowledge. She recently co-authored Journey to Kaho’olawe, covering more than two centuries of the Kanaka family’s migration to the Pacific Northwest coast, and was also a recipient of the City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for film and new media in 2010.

Among her long list of artist residencies and presentations is the Stanley Park Environmental Art Project, where she helped create public artworks after a storm devastated Stanley Park in 2006.


Lam Wong – 王藝林

Lam Wong is a visual artist, curator and designer who immigrated from Hong Kong. His approach is often focused on Eastern philosophies. His interest is primarily rooted in regional West Coast art history, with an emphasis on the development of painting and its avant-garde narrative. He sees art making as an on-going spiritual practice. His main subjects are the perception of reality, the meaning of art, and the relationships between time, memory and space. The fifteenth generation of a Chinese tea farmer family, Lam continues to explore the relationship between tea and Buddhism through contemporary art. Currently focused on painting and tea-related artwork.

Lam has had recent exhibitions at Griffin Art Projects, Canton-Sardine, Centre A and Vancouver Art Gallery. He is currently (2019-2021) artist in residence at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden where he organized five major art exhibitions since 2019. He serves as the Vice President at Centre A board (Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art). Lam has lived and worked in Vancouver since 1998.