The Sacredness of Four was commissioned for the Trout Lake Community Centre by the City of Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics.
It was carved by Ray Natroaro — or Sisyem — a master carver from the Squamish First Nation.
The piece is carved red granite mounted on a large metal plate. Four people are carved in a circle, with salmon in the middle.
"I just wanted to show the similarities of all people of mother earth, that we come from different areas but we're all human beings," Natroaro told The Early Edition's Margaret Gallagher.
Within a week of the sculpture being installed, pieces started to disappear. Natroaro believes the pieces were stolen because they were never found nearby.
"You put all your mind, body and spirit and your soul into your work, your creation. To see it being vandalized and to see pieces being stolen, it's like pieces of you being gone with it," he said.
This fall, Natroaro re-created the piece, using a single aluminum plate to make it harder to vandalize.
He also re-purposed what was left of the old piece, placing two broken halves together to create a new sculpture. That is now mounted inside the Trout Lake Community Centre — away from vandals.
Natroaro has commissioned a number of public art works and he says he's never experienced vandalism like this.
Brian Newson — the manager of the City of Vancouver Public Art program — said for each public art piece the city commissions 10 per cent of the budget is reserved for maintenance.
He said about 10 per cent of the pieces use up about 90 per cent of that budget, an investment he says is worthwhile.
"We believe if people have made a significant investment in artwork to begin with, we have a responsibility both to the original creator of the work and to the people who paid the funds to commission it, to look after it," he said.