Aboriginal artists take part in Welcome Week activities at VIU

September 16, 2011 - 2:41am

Shq’apthut: A Gathering Place is the focal point for a series of special welcoming events for Aboriginal students and others at Vancouver Island University.

Several Aboriginal artists are taking part in a week-long series of displays at Shq’apthut, one of the newest additions to VIU’s Nanaimo campus.

Wednesday’s featured artist, Julie Joseph, had a chance to demonstrate her weaving skills to VIU Chancellor Shawn A-in-chut Atleo.

Joseph is from Nitinaht Lake (Nuu-chah-nulth) and currently lives in Nanaimo. She has been weaving for 45 years and teaching for 20. In addition to cedar baskets and hats, Joseph weaves intricate jewellery.

Ceremonies and feasts are also being held to acknowledge First Nations and other Aboriginal groups in the region, respect cultural protocols and reflect the diversity of the Aboriginal population at VIU.

The festivities culminate with the celebration of the grand opening of Shq’apthut: A Gathering Place on Friday, Sept. 23rd, 2-4 pm.

Other artists featured this week:

Aaron Jules is Nuu-Cha-Nulth and grew up in a remote fishing village (Kyoquot). His first 12 years were spent with his late grandfather fishing where he found an admiration for carving. Although he has no formal teaching he has been carving for 12 years. He began his cultural journey through a canoe journey in 1999 when he canoed from Nuchahtlaht to Ahousaht with his mother’s family. His medium is carving wood and he continues to create and envision his identity as a First Nations man and artist. He lives and learns to share his carvings with the world.

Solomon Seward was born on March 16, 1970 and is of Coast Salish and Kwakwaka'wakw descent. Solomon is a prolific artist, working every day to support his family, to whom he devotes all his free time. He works in gold, silver, copper and occasionally brass. His favourite pieces to make are bracelets, pendants, and wrap-around rings. Among his greatest achievements he remembers restoring a 30-foot totem pole in Port Coquitlam 15 years ago. Solomon has sold to Hills Native Art since the early 1980s, beginning with his first carving -- a cedar eagle plaque.

Gordon Reid is from Qualicum First Nation and is a retired teacher. He was one of the first Aboriginal teachers in BC, member of Malaspina University-College Board, and received an Honorary Doctorate from VIU. Gordon does drum-making and works on cedar chests/boxes and crafts North West Coast designs on objects that he makes.

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