Danika Saunders (formerly Naccarella) is the inaugural recipient of the Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist Award. A hardworking, talented young artist of Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw and Nuxalk descent, Danika melds her understanding of classic northern Northwest Coast design with Nuxalk style, while remaining respectful to historical rules and traditions. Her graduation from Acwsalcta School in Bella Coola saw her head to Terrace to begin a two-year diploma at the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art where she distinguished herself as a methodical, thoughtful, and confident artist. She has been the recipient of the YVR Art Foundation Award, a BC Arts Council Scholarship and the President’s Award at Northwest Community College. More recently, Danika accepted a residency with Earthline Tattoo Training in Kelowna to immerse herself in traditional hand-poke tattooing and skin-stitch techniques. She has returned to Bella Coola to continue learning and to mentor younger Indigenous artists as an art teacher at Acwsalcta School.
The Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist designation was established in 2019. Named in honour of Brenda Crabtree, Director, Aboriginal Programs, Emily Carr University and the late Bill McLennan (1948-2020), Curator Emeritus, UBC Museum of Anthropology, this recognition aims to highlight and support emerging talent.