My earliest recollections of carving go back 70 years. My grandfather carved a model of my uncle Johnny’s seine boat and gave it to me for my birthday. I loved that boat. We lived in a village with no phones, TV’s, or radios so there were many chores and hobbies. There were beautiful old totems that stood in different places in the village. I used to wonder about the people who carved them, never realizing that their presence was shaping my future. I was nine years old when my family moved to Hazelton, B.C. where I saw my first totem pole raising and watched totem carvers there.
When I was seventeen years old I lived in Victoria and began to study the art and culture of my ancestors. The B.C. Provincial Museum had a carver, Henry Hunt, and I visited him every chance I could get. Henry invited me into his space and put an adze in my hand, that was the beginning of my intimate relationship with wood. Henry Hunt was a great inspiration,
he told me to go to the Gitanmaax School of Northwest Coast Art. Two years of study there led me to complete my first totem, an owl, which stands on the grounds at Ksan to this day.
Over the years I’ve carved over 24 totems and my love and reverence for carving continues to this day. There is a spiritual magic in taking a 1000-year-old cedar and creating a new totem that honours thousands of years of art and culture from our ancestors.
I was taught by many artists who shared their knowledge of our ancient totem culture and it’s always a pleasure to share my knowledge and teachings with anyone who is interested. It is in sharing the teachings that we can continue into the future with the priceless Indigenous knowledge of the Pacific Northwest that has continued for thousands of years.Tsimshian, Haida and Heiltsuk | Artist & Carver