Xwalacktun is an internationally renowned artist with roots in the Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and Kwakwaka’wakw Nation (Alert Bay). His remarkable artistic career spans over 40 years, encompassing a wide range of mediums, from public art and sculpture to metalwork, jewelry, glasswork, drawing, printmaking, and his renowned wood carving. He seamlessly blends traditional Salish forms with contemporary expressions, a hallmark of his distinctive style.
His art has captivated collectors worldwide and graced exhibitions both locally and internationally. Xwalacktun’s creative journey began with a degree in sculpture from Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Xwalacktun has shared his talent in Scotland, promoting its totem pole project and demonstrating his carving techniques in several Scottish communities. He is an artist, an educator and a mentor whose practice nurtures many apprentices, including his sons.
He played a pivotal role in preserving Salish culture as a contributing artist for Simon Fraser University’s 2009 “A Journey into Time Immemorial.”
Xwalacktun’s artistic legacy is interwoven with his community involvement, attending local events, and offering cultural greetings. His numerous accolades include his 2022 Honorary Doctorate from Emily Carr University, the 2016 First Nations Art Award, and the 2012 Order of BC. His art adorns public spaces across Canada and internationally, showcasing his ability to seamlessly blend tradition with modernity.
Shawna Kiesman, an emerging artist from Victoria, is a testament to dedication and innovation in her craft. With a diverse heritage, including Ts’msyen, Nisga’a and Haida/German roots, Shawna’s artistic journey began at the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Arts and continued at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts and supported by awards like the Audain Entrance Scholarship and BC Arts Council Scholarship.
As an emerging artist, Shawna’s post-graduation career is thriving, marked by grants and residencies, including the RBC Audain Museum Emerging Artist Program. Permanent collections such as the Nisga’a Museum and Coast Mountain College house and celebrate her work. Each piece is a means of cultural exploration and identity reclamation that delves into her Indigenous heritage. Shawna’s diverse portfolio includes digital art, textiles, drawing, and painting, and is known for its modernized take on everyday items. As a First Nations artist, she seeks to understand her ancestral culture and its complexities while ensuring its continuance and legacy.
Shawna was selected by the independent jury as the 2023 Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist.
The Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist designation was established in 2019. Named in honour of Brenda Crabtree, former Director, Aboriginal Programs, and Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Initiatives, 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.
Klatle-bhi, a master carver, is celebrated for his exquisite red cedar masks and a diverse portfolio which encompasses panels and totem poles. With over three decades of experience, his carving has evolved, driven by a deep commitment to ancestral spirituality and culture. Klatle-bhi’s distinctive style seeks the pinnacle of craftsmanship and artistry. His roots in Squamish and Kwakwaka’wakw cultures are integral to his life, as he strives to preserve languages, dances, and songs.
A supporter of passing on traditions, Klatle-bhi not only creates art but also mentors the next generation of artists. His collaborations with Collingwood School in West Vancouver have produced meaningful totem poles representing academic, athletic, service, and artistic excellence.
Klatle-bhi’s contributions extend beyond the studio; he has sung, danced, spoken, and shared his art at numerous gatherings and potlatches. His works are displayed in the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City and the Burke Memorial Museum of Natural History in Seattle.
Musqueam artist Brent Sparrow developed his practice and artistry through apprenticeships with his mother, Susan A. Point, and John Livingston, adopted Kwakwaka’wakw artist and master carver. Collaborating with his mother, Brent played a pivotal role in creating and installing public art, gracing institutions like the Seattle Art Museum, City of Vancouver, City of Richmond, and Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Beyond these collaborative ventures, Brent’s portfolio boasts nearly two dozen large-scale public artworks, spanning bronze, glass, and cedar, while his private works grace collections and galleries. His art deeply roots itself in his Coast Salish heritage, respecting ancestral legacies and contributing to cultural preservation.
Educated at BCIT, he holds a provincial “B” Red Seal in welding, adding a necessary skill to his artistic tool kit. Recent achievements include the installation of cast bronze public art at the UBC Bus Exchange, symbolizing a warm Musqueam welcome to the UBC Vancouver campus.
Latham Mack has been practicing his Nuxalk nation’s art since he a was a child. Growing up in Bella Coola surrounded by artistic family members and attending Acwsalcta School exposed him to culture and art at a very young age. As a youth artist he would sell his painted plaques to travellers waiting at the BC Ferries terminal. He learned carving from his late grandfather, hereditary chief Lawrence Mack, and by grade 10 he helped carve a 20-foot totem pole with Tony Speers. At Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art, Latham was mentored by world-renowned artists Stan Bevan, Ken McNeil and Dempsey Bob. Latham was apprenticed under Dempsey Bob for five years following graduation. Now, as an established artist, Latham’s works are found in collections around the world, from UBC’s Museum of Anthropology to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, Washington and many private collections in-between. As a Nuxalk artist Latham has stayed faithful to the traditional forms, bending them to form his own contemporary style.
Kwakwaka’wakw artist, Jamie Gentry grew up immersed in culture and surrounded by talented artists. From a young age she was drawn to working with her hands, whether it was sewing, beading or weaving. For the last eight years, Jamie has been making custom moccasins for clients – each pair is cut, beaded, sewn and carved by hand. Her goal is to make meaningful connections through moccasin making, contributing a purposeful product to the world, building connections and sharing culture. Her belief is that by making a connection with the maker and the product, we are more likely to hold that product closer to us, and it is less likely for that product to end up in a landfill. Jamie’s focus is on style, comfort and durability with an emphasis on sustainability.
Jamie was selected by the independent jury as the 2022 Crabtree McLennan Emerging Artist.
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.
Born in Victoria, Qwul’thilum Dylan Thomas is a Coast Salish artist and member of the Lyackson First Nation of Valdes Island, through his grandfather, Clifford Thomas. Although Dylan grew up in the urban setting of Victoria, he was introduced to Coast Salish art at a young age which ignited a lifelong passion for the art form – and, eventually, led him to seek guidance from established artists. Dylan received training in jewellery techniques from the late Seletze (Delmar Johnnie) and studied under Rande Cook in various mediums of Northwest Coast art. Over the past four years, Dylan has shifted his focus towards wood and stone carving and is now mainly focused on exploring Coast Salish sculpture. In 2019, Dylan was selected by the City of Victoria as the Indigenous Artist in Residence where he aimed to “create work that meaningfully honours the local Indigenous people – past, present, and future”.
Reg Davidson is a master Haida Artist recognized for his numerous and significant contributions to protecting and advancing Haida culture. He is known for producing significant traditional ceremonial objects such as masks, bentwood drums and dance regalia. Reg, an accomplished dancer, has mentored and taught two generations of Haida children the importance of Haida language and traditional song and dance. As an avid fisherman, he has provided his elders with food while participating in ecological protection projects that help safeguard the abundance of sea life in Haida Gwaii. Reg’s carvings have been commissioned locally and internationally, and many can be viewed right in BC, including a large sculpture grouping of the Blind Halibut Fisherman at Vancouver International Airport. Over many decades of committed artistry, Reg at his studio, has trained, taught and employed many artists who live in and off Haida Gwaii. With no art schools in Haida Gwaii, Reg has become a necessary agent of artistic education for younger local artists. Reg’s most recent project is a memorial pole in dedication to the life of his nephew Ben Davidson.
In recognition of his extraordinary and sustained accomplishment in First Nations Art in BC, Reg was selected to receive the 2022 Award of Distinction. The award is presented to an individual who has helped ensure that BC is a place filled with astonishing craft, with unique and immensely expressive power and continuous wonder.