Tucked behind the Neville Scarfe Building, in a quiet garden, is an intriguing five-foot-by-five-foot mural that alludes to a fascinating story about how a clever trickster brought light to the world.
The Raven Brings the Light mural, carved by Haida artist and former UBC student, Bernard Kerrigan, depicts this ancient legend associated with various Indigenous groups of the northwest coast, who have passed on variations of the story for thousands of years.
One version of the legend is portrayed in Roy Henry Vickers’s 2013 book, Raven Brings the Light (Harbour Publishing), which depicts “a time when darkness covered the land, [and] a boy named Weget is born who is destined to bring the light. With the gift of a raven's skin that allows him to fly as well as transform, Weget turns into a bird and journeys from Haida Gwaii into the sky. There he finds the Chief of the Heavens who keeps the light in a box. By transforming himself into a pine needle, clever Weget tricks the Chief and escapes with the daylight back down to Earth.”
It’s not surprising to learn that the Indigenous Teacher Education Program (NITEP) donated the mural when the garden was created in 1987 (then named the Children’s Garden), given that NITEP had adopted the legend for its logo at its inception.
On its website, it says the legend is “a fitting symbol because NITEP hopes to bring the light of education to [Indigenous] children in a much more effective way than has happened in the past.”
Interestingly, the mural is sandwiched between a quote from Helen Keller, a deaf-blind author, and activist, who speaks to the illuminating value of intelligence (or education) in spite of her limitations.
“My darkness had been filled with the light of intelligence.” - Keller
Opposite that quote is one by George Peabody, the founder of modern philanthropy, on the obligation to utilize the fruits of one’s intelligence for the benefit of those to come.
“Education is a debt due from the present to future generations.” - Peabody
Indigenous Art Series: Find out where you can view Indigenous art on campus and the story behind each piece by checking out the interactive map.