Archive for April 25th, 2010

One of the many songs inspired by the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 is “Little wot ye wha’s coming.” It is little more than a list of the clans that supported Bonnie Prince Charlie, and I’ve heard it sung slowly by Ewan MacColl, and faster and faster by The Corries. Just back from the Freda Diesing School graduation exhibit in Terrace, I’m reminded of the song because I feel as though I’ve spent the last two days meeting people.

Some I knew online but had never met, others by reputation. But let me see if I can generate a list, roughly in order since I arrived at the exhibit at 2PM on Friday:

  • Jill Girodat, the Associate Registrar at Northwest Community College, who helped us set up the Mature Student Award, and is well-known among students in need for her ability to find funding for them. Jill kindly volunteered to show me around the campus.
  • Stephanie Forsyth, Northwest’s president, who saw me taking photographs when I arrived and was puzzled about who I was until I got up to give the Mature Student Award that night, but remained polite.
  • Todd Stephens, a graduate last year from the Freda Diesing, who supervises the carving shed at the George Little House. Last year, we bought his “Jorja and I,” which hangs over my computer desk.
  • Shawn Aster, one of this year’s graduates, who remains a promising artist, both in terms of his ability and in terms of his promise that one day he will finish the painting we’ve discussed.
  • Gayton Nabess, one of the first year students, who showed me a left-handed stone paint pot found on the banks of the Skeena, and pictures of a non-traditional piece he recently completed (which I’m sorry that I never had time to see).
  • Dean Heron, the newest teacher at the Freda Diesing,who kindly gave me a tour of the nearly completed longhouse on the Northwest campus, and drove me out to see the work being done at the Kitselas Canyon project.
  • Ken McNeil, one of the teachers at the school, whose work I have long admired.
  • Stan Bevan, the program coordinator at the school, who let me see not only the four crests for the longhouse, but also his home and work area, and drove me around on Saturday evening. I also appreciate the book he presented me — a reprinting of a transcript of oral tales that were originally recorded almost a century ago. It’s the sort of genuine record of First Nations culture I’m always looking for, but rarely find.
  • Rocque Berthiaume, who teaches art history at the school, whom I’ve heard praised by many students but whom I had never previously met.
  • Carol Young Bagshaw, this year’s winner of the Mature Student Award, who introduced the first year students at the graduation ceremony, and saw that I not only had my own cap and T-shirt from the school, but also a shirt to bring home to Trish.
  • Colin Morrison, whose first mask we bought. He turns out to be much taller in person than I had imagined.
  • Mitch Adams, who kindly agreed to let me buy his “Blue Moon Mask” rather than send it down to the upcoming Spirit Wrestler Show. It was one of the most sought-after pieces in the end of year exhibit, and he could have had half a dozen other buyers, had he chose. Mitch also invited me down to hear his band play, although by 10PM on Saturday, I no longer had the energy.
  • John Wilson, who is clearly the most accomplished artist in this years’ graduating class, even if he doesn’t always receive the credit he deserves. Over the last year, we’ve chatted so often on Facebook that, when he walked up, we started talking as if we met face to face everyday.
  • Latham Mack, another of this year’s graduates, who danced his Thunder Spirit Mask on Friday night, and kindly got me permission from his elders to post pictures online of the performance (which I plan to do some time this week).
  • Chaz Mack, who showed me some of his vivid and powerful works in his dorm room.
  • Dempsey Bob, the school’s Senior Advisor and one of the master carvers of his generation, who made some effort to draw me out at dinner on Saturday, when I looked overwhelmed by all the new faces.
  • Diana Wong Adams, Mitch’s spouse, whose taste for the Pogues instantly told me she was a person worth knowing.
  • Ron Telek, whose work we’ve been collecting for several years. Somehow the disasters and mishaps that have averted our previous efforts to meet were absent this time, and we actually got to hang out.
  • Peter Jackson, who drove up from Prince Rupert to talk over dessert.

These are only the people I had extended conversations with (although possibly I’ve left out one or two). Were I to include everybody I was introduced to, or exchanged a few brief remarks with, the list would be over twice as long.


But whether I mentioned people or not, my thanks to all those I met for their friendship, kindness, and hospitality. Together, you stimulated and exhausted me in equal measure. I look forward to renewing our acquaintance at the Spirit Wrestler show next month, and at next year’s graduation.

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