Bruce Parisian

Bruce Parisian

Young aboriginal artists in Victoria get $15,000 boost

The Saanich-based Victoria Native Friendship Centre has been awarded $15,000 to support local off-reserve aboriginal artists.

The Saanich-based Victoria Native Friendship Centre has been awarded $15,000 to support local off-reserve aboriginal artists.

B.C. Aboriginal Relations Minister John Rustad announced winners Monday of a province-wide competition for community-based projects that was launched in February. There were 21 entries and projects in Penticton and Vancouver also won $15,000 each.

“This competition was really about finding out the groovy things that are happening in the communities around British Columbia, and honouring that and recognizing that that’s where the solutions are,” said Paul Lacerte, executive director of the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres.

Bruce Parisian, executive director of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, said the $15,000 will go toward honorariums that will buy materials and art supplies for emerging aboriginal artists.

“The idea is to get the artist to produce their work, then to auction or sell their pieces, and then that revenue will go back into the program to continue it on,” Parisian said. “It will give young aboriginal artists the ability to promote their art.

“The idea is to create wealth and put money into the program, and to continue to see growth. We are hoping to generate $50,000 from the $15,000.”

Parisian said for example, the small-scale totem he brought to the ceremony at the legislature on Monday was carved from about $5 worth of wood, but could be sold for more than $1,000.

Renowned artist Carey Newman carved that particular piece, based on a totem in Cowichan. Newman is the same artist who carved two full-scale totems that peer over the Friendship Centre today.

Parisian said the program to fund young artists in Victoria will likely roll out this fall. At the same time, students at the Friendship Centre will start carving its third totem, this one representing the Nuu-chah-nulth people. The first two represent Coast Salish and Kwakwaaka’wakw peoples, respectively.

Parisian is aiming to raise the third totem on June 21, 2014, National Aboriginal Day.

–with reporting from Tom Fletcher

editor@saanichnews.com