A dream come true: First Nations woman's art displayed at Vancouver airport

A Carcross Tagish First Nation artist is having her artwork displayed at the Vancouver airport for a year.

'Once it was displayed... it was like 'wow,'" says Violet Gatensby

Violet Gatensby is one of the recipients for the 2016 YVR youth scholarship that awards $5,000 and an opportunity to showcase one piece of art at the Vancouver airport for a year. (YVR Art Foundation/Facebook)

Recent art school graduate Violet Gatensby only dreamed of having her work showcased at the Vancouver airport — a hot-spot for beautiful Indigenous art from big-name artists.

Well, the young artist's dream came true sooner than expected.

The YVR Art Foundation unveiled Gatensby's piece last month — a carved and painted round panel piece she worked on for a year.

"It definitely feels like a big deal," said Gatensby, an artist from Carcross Tagish First Nation in Yukon who won the 2016 YVR youth scholarship. As part of the award, the scholar's artwork will display at the airport for one year.

"It was just a dream of mine to one day have my work displayed in there," said Gatensby.

"Once it was displayed... it was like 'wow.'"

The 2016 YVR scholarship recipients. (YVR Art Foundation/Facebook)

The raven's story

A raven with water drops near its mouth is the main character in Gatensby's work. It's based on a traditional creation story, when the raven visits the keeper of water.

"[The raven] asks him for water and he says no. So he tricks [the keeper] and somehow manages to get that water," explained Gatensby.

As the raven tries to escape, the keeper of water "tries to catch him by smokin' him out," said Gatensby.

The raven gets caught in a smoke hole and that's how it gets its colour.

"Before he was white, now he's black."

Last year, the Vancouver airport had more than 22 million people travelling through — a record high for the airport.

Gatensby's art will be displayed for six months in the domestic terminal, then six months on the international side.

With files from Leonard Linklater