Walking Softly - An Introduction to our Content Committee

By: Bill Reid Gallery

How do we plan our exhibitions and programs while ensuring that we are following proper protocols when sharing the stories behind the works on display? When making decisions like these we seek guidance from our content committee – a group comprised of Indigenous knowledge keepers, artists, and curators.

With their leadership, we are able to remain accountable to the Indigenous communities we serve. We are also excited to work with Indigenous co-curators for every exhibition at the gallery. These approaches help us to walk softly through our community.

We thank our current content committee for the invaluable knowledge they share with us:

Photo courtesy of Chief Janice George

Chepxímiya Chief Janice George 

Squamish artist, curator, educator and Bill Reid Foundation Board Member

Chief Janice George graduated from Capilano University, North Vancouver BC, and the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, NM, USA.   She feels her education at these schools helped her excel as a teacher, adding to her most important traditional teachings. She is a hereditary chief, trained museum curator and educator. George also co-organized the 1st Canada Northwest Coast Weavers Gathering, with other Squamish Nation Weavers.  George is from a prominent Squamish family and has numerous ceremonial and cultural responsibilities in her community.

Taakeit G’aaya - Corey Bulpitt 

Haida artist and Bill Reid Foundation Board Member

Taakeit Aaya or "Gifted Carver" Haida of the Naikun Raven clan was born in Prince Rupert BC in 1978. He is a great-great grandson of the famed Charles Edenshaw and Louis Collison. Corey graduated from the Langley Fine arts School in 1996. In 2001 he apprenticed under Master Carver Christian White for three years in Haida Gwaii, learning design and wood carving. He is an avid painter, jeweler, wood and argillite carver who enjoys exploring different mediums such as spray paint, which he has used to create large-scale paintings involving urban youth in Vancouver. Corey has carved many totem poles, including a 20' yellow cedar pole for Scouts Canada, a 17' story pole now at Queen Charlotte Lodge, and a 14' mortuary-style memorial, which stands in the Namgis burial ground, Alert Bay, carved in memory of his Haida ancestors who died during the smallpox epidemic inflicted in 1862 and who made their final rest at Bones Bay where Corey erected a large painted cedar panel. He has also carved a pole in New Zealand with Maori Master Lionel Grant and North West Coast carvers Dempsey Bob, Joe David and Christian White. Corey has worked on many other poles under Christian White, Jim Hart, Dwayne Simeon and Beau Dick. He has recently assisted on the 2010 Olympic pole with Klatle Bhi for Petro-Can. Corey has worked beside and learned from many master carvers such as Sharon Hitchcock, Wayne Alfred, Donny Edenshaw, Phil Grey, and Jay Simeon, to name a few. His biggest influences are the old master carvers of the 17th to late 19th century whose skills are left unmatched. Through his study, Corey creates functional pieces that can be used in the traditional context of song and dance.

Photo courtesy of Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society

Jisgang - Nika Collison 

Senior negotiator for the Haida Repatriation Committee and Director|Curator of the Haida Gwaii Museum

Nika Collison (Jisgang) belongs to the Ts’aahl eagle clan of the Haida Nation. She is associate curator of the Haida Gwaii Museum at Kay Llnagaay – specializing in Haida art, history and culture. Over the past 15 years Nika has had the honour of working with her community in the creation of several major exhibitions for both the Haida Gwaii Museum and other institutions. She serves as a senior negotiator for the Haida Repatriation Committee and works to build partnerships with museums world-wide. Nika is a traditional singer and student of all things Haida.

Photo sourced from Emily Carr University

Brenda Crabtree

Aboriginal Program Manager at Emily Carr University

Brenda Crabtree is the Aboriginal Program Manager at Emily Carr University. She received her BA and MA (Cultural Anthropology) from Western Washington University. She belongs to the Spuzzum Band and has both Nlaka'pamux and Sto:lo ancestry. Her teaching and art practice focuses on both traditional and contemporary Aboriginal materials and techniques. She develops Aboriginal content curriculum and teaches Aboriginal art history and Aboriginal studio based courses as a sessional. Her research includes travelling to Kuching, Malaysia, Borneo and Tuvalu.

Photo sourced from artist's website 

Lou-ann Ika’wega Neel 

Kwakwaka’wakw artist and curator, Repatriation Specialist at the Royal BC Museum

Lou-ann Neel (Ika'wega) is from the Mamalilikulla, Da'naxda'xw, Mumtagila and Kwagiulth tribes of the Kwakwaka'wakw Nation. Lou-ann began creating traditional Kwakwaka'wakw designs at the age of 13 under the instruction of George Hunt Jr. She continued to learn new design elements and techniques throughout her junior high and high school year, after which she continued to explore and experiment on her own with textiles, wood carving, paintings and more recently, jewelry. She recently graduated with a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Lou-ann has also been actively involved as an arts manager/administrator, most recently with the University of Victoria.