Framed Art Card - Northern Spirit (9" x 12")
As is fairly typical on the coast, I have numerous connections to many different First Nations. Although I consider myself Kwakiutl and K’omoks first and foremost, I also feel that I must pay respect to the many ties to other territories that I have. To the north of our territory, we find the land of the Nuxalk, Heiltsuk, Xaisla, Haida, Tsimshian, Nisga’a and Tlingit. With almost every one of these, I can list threads that bind us together—whether through common ancestry or intermarriage.
Recently, I was approached by the BC Lions Society to paint a bear for the Spirit Bears in the City project. Although this bear is not a recognizable figure in Kwakwaka’wakw culture, I felt the need to honour my Northern relatives. It is my hope that “Healing Spirit” captured some of the power, pride and authority of the north.
Creating a tiny chilkat blanket design for some cuddly spirit bears and the opportunity to work with my friend and author, David Bouchard, provided me with enough impetus to once again draw inspiration from the north. Although I may never see one in person, the Kermode, or spirit bear is a mystical creature. A rare genetic occurrence allows about 1 in every 10 black bears to have white fur. What makes this even more rare is that this only occurs along the central coast of British Columbia. Currently there is a movement to protect and adopt the spirit bear as a symbol of BC. Sharing the territory with my northern relatives since time immemorial, Kermode bears clearly reflect a “Northern Spirit.”