Darlene Gait, an artist from the Esquimalt First Nation, was aboard a B.C. Ferries vessel in December when the ship was suddenly surrounded by orcas.

“It was a really significant thing to see,” Gait said Tuesday in an interview. “I’ve never seen such a huge pod before and never that close.”

It was Dec. 23 and she was en route to Swartz Bay.

Gait was awaiting word on whether she had been awarded a commission for artwork on the exterior and interior of B.C. Ferries’ new vessel, Salish Orca.

Later that day, Gait received a telephone call to let her know her designs had been selected, out of 37 entrants, and the commission was hers.

Salish Orca is under construction in Gdansk, Poland. Delivery is expected this year and the vessel will run between Comox and Powell River.

Gait was part of a Tuesday ceremony at One Moon Art Gallery, on the Esquimalt First Nation, in which her motif was unveiled.

Salish Orca is one of three intermediate-class vessels being built for about $200 million. The other two vessels are Salish Eagle and Salish Raven, which will serve the Southern Gulf Islands.

- See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/artist-s-winning-motif-for-new-ferry-heralded-by-orcas-splashy-greeting-1.2219729#sthash.N9grXpwI.dpuf