Reclaimed Culture and Life – the First Nations Cultural Art Showcase that opened Thursday at the Royal BC Museum – speaks volumes in its very name.
The work of carvers Tom Hunt Jr., of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation and Dave and Jonathon Jacobson of the Tsaxis First Nation, is on display alongside Shishalh cedar weaver Toni Frank’s pieces and a collection from the Good family, of Snuneymuxw First Nation, including Bill Good, his wife Sandra and their children Aunalee, Joel and Sophia.
The showcase, a partnership between TimberWest and the RBCM, will hold court in Clifford Carl Hall until Oct. 22 and is free to the public during regular museum hours.
“When I work on stuff for my people it’s in a very caring, heartfelt way,” said carver Dave Jacobson.
“But when I do it, everything comes really swiftly,” he explained. “And that’s what I’d like to see for our people, is a swiftness in that nature with reconciliation. It’s long overdue.”
|From left: Jonathon Jacobson, Dave Jacobson, Angela Williams, education minister Rob Fleming, Sophia Good, Aunalee Good, Sandra Good, Joel Good, Bill Good and Toni Frank at the opening of their art shocase, 'Reclaimed Culture and Life.' (Kristyn Anthony/News staff)|
Addressing a crowd that included members of the provincial government, Jacobson called on the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development to change the existing laws prohibiting Indigenous people from accessing their resources.
“I’m looking for a time when we no longer have to buy our carving wood, and a time when I can go fall my own tree on my own land,” Jacobson said, before thanking TimberWest and the RBCM, calling a “real opportunity” to have his work be included in the showcase.
Angela Williams of the RBCM said the museum “can and will” do more to facilitate reconciliation with Indigenous communities in B.C.
“There is something about the passion in their work that ignites passion in us,” Williams said. “The [artist’s] stories and how they’ve connected with their home landscapes is the [kind of] listening that we need to do more of.”
Minister of Education Rob Fleming thanked the museum for working with Indigenous artists in a new way, preserving their culture and legacy.
“This is how experienced artists are able to tell stories through their work,” Fleming said. “We know that the education system at one time was aimed at eradicating that, so [reconciliation] is difficult work but it is joyful work.”
Reclaimed Culture and Life runs until Oct. 22 at the Royal BC Museum. Some of the pieces on display are available for sale and those interested are invited to contact the artists directly.