When the Terrace Economic Development Authority (TEDA) hosted the Skeena Summit in 2009, bringing all the regions leaders together to debate and discuss the economic realities and future prosperity for the area, two featured speakers were able to clearly identify the reality. Roger Brooks and Calvin Helin each spoke about the First Nations of the region. Helin spoke about the need for First Nations to step up and take control of their future, quoting from his book “Dances with Dependency”. Brooks, however addressed how the entire Northwest, not just the First Nations, could achieve world notoriety and bring an economic revolution to the region. Brooks addressed as he asked; what does the Northwest corner of British Columbia have that cannot be found anywhere else in the world? Coastal First Nations culture and artwork; artwork Brooks stated he spent thousands on before he left Terrace. This he said he couldn’t get closer to home. Brooks lives in Vancouver.
And this past weekend the display of talent was open for all to see at the new Tsimshian Longhouse at the Northwest Community College (NWCC) campus in Terrace on the Nisga’a Highway. The Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art held a year end exhibit this past Saturday, April 16th and Sunday, April 17th showing off carvings, paintings, masks, paddles, drums and more. It was an inspirational exhibit of talent in a respectful environment. Although difficult to describe this as an industry for those looking to the future, this is not simply art, this is; in economic terms, sustainable and a growth product. Wealthy tourists and buyers could come flocking to the region to experience this treasure.
The Freda Diesing School has been guiding young First Nations artists to a unlimited future.
The instructors and mentors are world-renowned artists in their own right and have devoted their talents to the protégé of the culture; Dempsey Bob (Tahltan/Tlingit), Stan Bevan (Tahltan/Tlingit/Tsimshian), Ken McNeil (Tahltan/Tlingit/Nisga'a) and the school's newest teacher, Dean Heron (Kaska/Tlingit).
Just over one week ago at the other post secondary educational Campus in Terrace, the University of Northern BC (UNBC), a very large carving was unveiled by Clifford Bolton (Tsimshian) and Rena Point Bolton (Sto:lo), the Parents of BC’s 28th Lieutenant-Governor Steven Point. Read the report and see pictures and video HERE
“I think it’s time Northern BC wakes up; finds out what they have, because our trees are disappearing and everything else that we are used to getting our funding and money from; they’re disappearing.” pausing to acknowledge his wife, a Lifetime Creative Achievement Award recipient for First Nations' Art, then turned to the gathered politicians, educators and business representatives and stated, “We do have the resource here that you haven’t tapped. That’s all I have to say.”
This statement echoed what both Helin and Brooks spoke about in October of 2009, in an attempt to elucidate the local community leaders. Brooks explained how the oldtimers of some communities; the political structure, destroys the best ideas. In Terrace, he stated, we could allow the political crowd to push the Riverboat theme and the historical draw at the expense of a truly productive unique draw. Brooks shouted, “No more strategic plans!” and then referring to historic downtowns, scenery and location exclaimed “These are not primary draws.” Read the report on The Skeena Summit HERE
On display this weekend at the NWCC campus Tsimshian Longhouse was exactly what Brooks and Bolton were speaking of; First Nations art and culture. It was beautiful and it was stunning. Works of art unequalled and unavailable anywhere but in this Sacred Circle of eight Coastal First Nations peoples. Tlinglit, Tahltan, Gitksan, Wet’suweten, Tsimshian, Haisla, Nisga’a and Haida.
To see a map of the Sacred Circle with the associated villages, territories and place names, Click HERE
. This webpage opens with a map of BC showing the three major rivers and how these rivers form the image of a Native Chief looking east, to the rising sun as if to say, 'Yes, we're here, always have been, come and visit us.' Move the mouse over the map to see more.