Working with the District’s Indigenous educators, staff identified local artists that would represent the most prominent nations of Vancouver’s Indigenous communities; the people of Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh nations.
Family plays a vital role in Indigenous cultures and that was prevalent in Legacy Carving Project. All the carvers were related to each other, either through a son and father or sibling relationship. Since there is not a written language for the Indigenous people, it is particularly important to work intergenerationally so the culture, knowledge and traditions are passed down to future generations.
Reconciliation Poles artists
Female Welcome Figure artists
Male Welcome Figure artists
Reconciliation Pole artists | Rick and James Harry (father and son)
James (Nexw’Kalus-Xwalacktun) Harry is of Squamish Nation (Swxwú7meshḵ) and European decent (Scottish, and German). James spent much of his childhood and early adolescence immersed in art. He learned First Nations stories, form and design, and carving skills from his father, Xwalacktun (Rick Harry), a master carver of the Squamish Nation. James’s mother and an accomplished painter, gave him hands-on experience with drawing and painting. He developed his own techniques and methodology, expanding on his father's work and beginning to formulate a contemporary approach to Aboriginal art and practice. When he was in secondary school, James began his career as an artist by carving the doors of the BC Aboriginal Sports Hall of Fame. He attended Emily Carr University of Arts and Design, obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with a major in Visual Arts in 2014. His studies focused on integrating traditional Coast Salish art forms with contemporary concepts and materials. Find out more information at: https://www.jamesharry.ca/new-page-3
Rick (Xwa-lack-tun) Harry was born and raised in Squamish. His mother is originally from Squamish and Alert Bay (Coast Salish, Kwakiutl) while his father was Coast Salish (Squamish). Xwa-lack-tun was given his indigenous name by his father, Pekultn, who was a hereditary chief, originally from the Seymour Creek area. This artist gained his skills and education from Emily Carr College of Art and Capilano College, but also feels he learned a lot through trial and error. Xwa-lack-tun is an artist whose works are recognized internationally. In 2005 he received an honourable award from the North Vancouver Arts Council which acknowledged his contributions both locally and world-wide. Find out more information here: http://www.authenticindigenous.com/artists/rick-harry
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Female Welcome Figure artists | Chrystal and Chris Sparrow (sister and brother)
Chrystal Sparrow is a descendant of the Musqueam First Nation peoples, located in Vancouver, BC on Coast Salish territory. At an early age, her father Irving Sparrow, a master carver taught the importance of Coast Salish art in designing and carving techniques as preparation in passing down the traditions art. In her early 20s, Sparrow began designing a unique feminine Salish art style and carving two-dimensional cedar panels, sculptures and silver jewelry. In 2008, Sparrow was the first female to complete the Northwest Coast Jewelry Arts program at the Native Education College. Sparrow has worked as an art facilitator in schools, a speaker for Coast Salish history and art consultation. Since 2013, she has been working as the cultural coordinator at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre to support women in exploring the arts. “For me, Coast Salish art is a part of my living identity that allows me to express my role as a woman, an artist, a survivor, and a storyteller.”
Chris Sparrow grew up on the Salish Seas with his grandfather, dad and uncles fishing and hunting. Many of his inspirations comes from seeing the flow and movement of fish and other sea creatures. At the age of nine, Sparrow started carving and has been carving since. His artwork style is traditional yet unique. His work consists of small to large plaques (flat and 2D), sculptors, poles and spindles. The last few years have been the most inspirational for Sparrow– which he credits to his two children. During this time, he placed first and second in the Transformations on the Shore carving contest.
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Male Welcome Figure artists | William & Eric Dan (father and son)
At 69, William Dan is the eldest carver of the bunch. William is from the Musqueam nation. His great grand uncle was Chief August Jack Khahtsahlano, whose anglicized surname became the namesake for Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood.
William has been carving for decades and this is last project before he retires. In addition to William’s contributions to the male figure, his son, Eric Dan and cousin Ramsey Louis as well as good friend Kevin Seaward, all worked on the project.
“This project allowed me an opportunity to work with my family, who are carvers. It gave me the opportunity to mentor my young son, Eric.” William is proud to share his knowledge to future generations and pass down carving projects onto the family.
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