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Edition of 99

For my ancestors, the dugout canoe was their primary means of transportation. It brought them to summer camps and favoured fishing grounds. It transported them to spectacular clam beaches and ancient sacred sites. It delivered them to other villages to visit, to forge alliances and to attend potlatches.

In the late 1800s, my K’omoks great-grandmother, Mary Frank, was to be initiated as a hamat̓sa dancer by her uncle Chief Na̱k̓apenḵa̱m in the village of Fort Rupert. A small group of individuals were tasked with making the journey from Fort Rupert to K’omoks and back to pick her up—a roundtrip distance in excess of 500 km. Incidentally, my Walas Kwag’uł great-grandfather, Charlie Wilson, was a member of that crew. Little did he know that over forty years later, his middle daughter would marry the youngest son of Mary Frank. The connection between the families began as a journey and continues with their descendants to this day. When I was 10 years old, I was given my great grandmother’s song and dance—always reflecting the journey that the dance took to get down here to my home in K’omoks.

Over 21 years ago, I started my artistic journey by releasing my very first limited edition print…based, of course, on a canoe. Earlier that summer, I had embarked on my first Tribal Journey, paddling south from K’omoks to Victoria. With every paddle stroke, I channeled the strength of my ancestors. Through searing heat, our muscles ached, but we persevered. The reward, however, wasn’t the destination. No, the reward was the journey: making friends along the way, embracing our traditional culture and touching the very waterways our ancestors paddled on many years earlier. Once in a while you may encounter a little rain on the journey. It may be brief or it may be torrential, but the journey continues….