Nova Scotia Journal

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Incorporating Nuu-chah-nulth art into the cityscape


Key Takeaways:

  • Joslyn Williams struggled to comprehend her own identity as she grew up in the city, far from her Nuu-chah-nulth and Kwakwaka’wakw homelands.
  • She felt detached from herself because she didn’t have somebody to tell her about her culture.

Rodrina Peter, Williams’ mother, imparted her knowledge by teaching him the foundations of the Nuu-chah-nulth language.

Peter had to deal with the loss of her mother, who was her cultural bond when she was a teenager. Even though “wonderful” foster parents raised Peter, Williams claims they were not Nuu-chah-nulth and couldn’t “teach her anything about her culture.”

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Williams stated there were no Indigenous teachers at Mount Douglas Secondary School when he was in high school. In Grade 12, she had applied for a subject on the history of First Nations peoples on Vancouver Island, but it had been canceled.

Art of cityscape Nuu-chah-nulth; Image from Skillshare

“That class didn’t have enough interest,” she explained. “Which was a tremendous bummer.” So Williams became active with the Victoria Native Friendship Centre to learn more about her culture, and it was there that she was introduced to the Eagle Project in 2015.

The Eagle Project guided youth by carving a totem pole under the guidance of master carver Moy Sutherland Jr. In addition to providing career advice, First Aid training, and business development initiatives.

Williams was introduced to the Nuu-chah-nulth carving style for the first time, and she was immediately intrigued.

Williams added, “I didn’t want to stop carving after that.” Sutherland, who taught her how to carve paddles and make her designs, offered her a two-year apprenticeship due to the effort. He also taught her how to differentiate the Nuu-chah-nulth aesthetic from that of other West Coast cultures and stories about the animals that are frequently referenced in Nuu-chah-nulth art.

She explained that art is utilized to share these stories.

According to Williams, despite her Kwakwaka’wakw ancestry, Williams chose to build a Nuu-chah-nulth look because just a few people continue to carve in the technique.

Source: TORONTO Star

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