9040 Granville St, Port Hardy, BC V0N 2P0
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Our Art

Meet Our Artists

Wayne Walkus is from the traditional Gwa’sala Nakwaxda’xw territories. Wayne Walkus started drawing boats as a child

Wayne Walkus

Wayne Walkus is from the traditional Gwa’sala Nakwaxda’xw territories. Wayne Walkus started drawing boats as a child. His Grandpa Larry owned boats and one day he opened a book and it was a book on Smokey Top (Willie Seaweed, famous carver and Kwakwaka’wakw Chief) and when he saw things he just fell in love with it. Wayne Walkus wanted to do that and asked her grandma questions about this man. Little did I know that he was my great-grandfather Willie Seaweed and the stories were amazing. It was touching to hear stories and it made him want to be like this wonderful man.

 

Today, Wayne Walkus carves listening to the stories in memory of his Grandma Louisa Joseph who was his mentor, he thanks you today, Gran. He remembers everything. You said never lose what I have, always remember who you are and where you come from gwalat’u.

Walter Brown

Walter Brown is a young and upcoming artist. He comes from a rich family history, having ties into the Gixsam tribe of the ‘Nakwaxda’xw people from his mother’s bloodline, as well as Tla-o-qui-aht tribe of the Nuu Chah-Nulth people through his father. Throughout Walter’s whole life, he has always shown an interest in his cultural ways. His thoughtful, balanced designs are based on traditional lore. In 2010, he was inspired to learn more about traditional artwork after seeing a plaque and totem pole carved by his late grandfather William George. His dream is to continue his grandfather’s legacy of creating art. 

Walter Brown is a young and upcoming artist. He comes from a rich family history, having ties into the Gixsam tribe of the ‘Nakwaxda’xw
John Henderson of the Nakwaxda’xw nation is featured in many areas of the hotel.

Johnny Henderson

The exceptional work of John Henderson of the Nakwaxda’xw nation is featured in many areas of the hotel. The large 3D design in the ballroom serves as the main motif for the wallpaper in the meeting rooms, back of the gift boutique, and the entrance to Ha’me’, the restaurant. My parents are Kenneth and Alice Henderson. My art and carvings were inspired by my grandfather Willie Seaweed. My grandfather’s son – my late uncle Joe, and his late wife Nellie Seaweed requested that I keep their legacy as carvers alive in our family.

 

I was very late in starting my art and carving practice. While at St. Michaels Residential School at Alert Bay for a short time, I had the pleasure of meeting and learning from two great people, the late Harry Joseph and Henry Speck.

 

Most of my work is very limited and has been given away to friends and family. I’ve carved one totem pole in my life, with the help from my friend Dorey Brotchie, for our school. I’ve painted a few potlatch curtains including the last one for Dorey’s potlatch. A lot of my work has been for funerals, designing crosses and building and designing caskets.

Shain Jackson

Shain Jackson is a Coast Salish from the community of Sechelt. He is a lawyer who has represented the interests of Indigenous communities and organizations throughout British Columbia in relation to a broad array of issues. After years devoted to the legal profession, Shain has taken a break to follow his passion as an artist.

 

Artistically, Shain works in Coast Salish design. As he has continued to develop his own artwork to a higher level, he has had the privilege of collaborating with many amazing local artists. Along these lines, Shain has devoted much of his time to the protection of artists’ rights.

 

Shain is the President of Spirit Works Limited, an Indigenous-owned, operated, and staffed company focused on designing, producing, and distributing Indigenous artwork such as jewelry, bentwood boxes, paddles, and so on.

Shain Jackson is a Coast Salish from the community of Sechelt

Our Artwork

In 2015, a community of elders was brought together to curate a selection of local, Aboriginal art and design for the Kwa’lilas Hotel.
K’awa’tsi Economic Development Corporation, the parent company of Kwa’lilas hotel wishes to give a heartfelt thank you to the Art Committee and Shain Jackson for their dedication to this project. We also want to show appreciation to the local artists whose work is so proudly displayed throughout our lobby.

Art Committee: Richard George | Mary Henderson | Lily Johnny | Gertie Walkus | & The Late Betty Walkus

Lobby Copper Art

Shain Jackson | Coast Salish Artist | Feature Copper Wall

At center stage, the feature wall in the lobby of Kwa’lilas Hotel is a large, copper art piece. This stunning 18-foot wide focal point depicts the history and the legends of the Gwa’sala Nakwakda’xw people. Look closely and you will find mythical creatures as well as respected Chiefs and elders who lived when the people still occupied their traditional territories. The copper art piece is a magnum opus for Shain Jackson, the Coast Salish Artist who created it. Despite his acknowledgement that the artwork is seminal, it is also, in his words, simply the visual expression of the many stories told to him by the elders over a two-year period. He is proud to have been a conduit for creating the piece and helping to preserve their culture and history.

Dzunukwa, The Wild Woman of the Woods

Growing up as a child the legend goes that if you were out past dark you would have to be very careful to get home. We were told to stay away from the tree line because the Dzunukwa would come and take little kids from the village and take them home to eat them. She waited for children that were out after dark. If she found you she’d scoop you into her basket that was deep enough so that you could not get out. She is always walking around very tired and yawning all the time. She has to always be on her feet because if she ever sat down she’d get stuck. The roots from the ground would come up and plant her down to the ground so that she could never get up again.

Wayne Walkus | On loan courtesy of the Gwa'sala Nakwakda'xw Elders.

Grouse

Wayne Walkus | On loan courtesy of the Gwa'sala Nakwakda'xw Elders.

Wayne Walkus Art

'Unknown'

Wayne Walkus

Walter Brown Art

Kolus

Walter Brown

Wayne Walkus Art

Crooked Beak

Wayne Walkus

Tina Henderson - Artist

The ‘Button Wall Hanging” is on display at the front entrance to the Kwa’lilas Hotel. The button design is indicative of what could be seen on button blankets used in big house ceremonies such as a potlatch. Button blankets are part of ceremonial regalia and are therefore considered a treasure. They are never to be displayed in a public setting.

While this wall hanging is not a button blanket, it offers the outside viewer a chance to see a powerful Aboriginal design they might otherwise never see.

Button Wall Hanging

The ‘Button Wall Hanging” is on display at the front entrance to the Kwa’lilas Hotel
Johnny Henderson - Artist

Featured in our fine dining restaurant Ha’me, this is one of Willie Seaweed’s Treasures.

My art and carvings were inspired by my grandfather Willie Seaweed. My grandfather’s son – my late uncle Joe, and his late wife Nellie Seaweed requested that I keep their legacy as carvers alive in our family. 

The Raven

Featured in our fine dining restaurant Ha’me, this is one of Willie Seaweed’s Treasures.
Featured in our fine dining restaurant Ha’me, this is one of Willie Seaweed’s Treasures by Johnny Henderson

Ha'me Salmon

Wesley is the innovative artist who created the design for the carved salmon found throughout Ha’me (food), the hotel restaurant.
Wesley Walkus - Artist

Wesley is the innovative artist who created the design for the carved salmon found throughout Ha’me (food), the hotel restaurant.

Wesley knows the subject matter well. Starting at the age of 12 he gillnetted salmon with his father Clyde. In keeping with the life cycle, the large group of salmon seen on the restaurant wall swim upstream to create the next generation. The head of each salmon is white to indicate they are spawning.

Our Guest Rooms

Throughout Walter’s whole life, he has always shown an interest in his cultural ways.
His thoughtful, balanced designs are based on traditional lore. In 2010, he was inspired to learn more about traditional artwork after seeing a plaque and totem pole carved by his late grandfather William George. His dream is to continue his grandfather’s legacy of creating art.

 

Walter Brown created the headboard that can be found in the Mountain View King Rooms. The design of the backlit headboard is of two Thunderbirds that meet in the middle. Walter chose the Thunderbirds because this mythical creature represents both the Gwa’sala and Nakwada’w bands and shows they are connected.

Morris Johnny - Artist

Morris created the design for the beautiful red headboard accents in the standard guest rooms. Morris Johnny is of Kwakwaka’wakw and Cowichan First Nations descent. He has lived in Alert Bay since 1998. He has carved alongside Aubrey Johnston and Marcus Alfred and appreciated Stephen Bruce, learning all of the skills necessary for authenticity in his art. Morris credits his lineage for the legacy of traditional carving held in his family and that he continues to carry on. His family crest includes the toothed Thunderbird, Killer Whale, and Grizzly Bear. 

Mountain View Queen Guest Suite

Johnny Henderson - Artist

The exceptional work of John Henderson of the Nakwada’w nation is featured in many areas of the hotel. The large 3D design in the ballroom serves as the main motif for the wallpaper in the meeting rooms, the back of the gift boutique, and the entrance to Ha’me’, the restaurant.


“My parents are Kenneth and Alice Henderson. My art and carvings were inspired by my grandfather Willie Seaweed. My grandfather’s son – my late uncle Joe, and his late wife Nellie Seaweed requested that I keep their legacy as carvers alive in our family. I was very late in starting my art and carving practice.
While at St. Michaels Residential School at Alert Bay for a short time, I had the pleasure of meeting and learning from two great people, the late Harry Joseph and Henry Speck.


Most of my work is very limited and has been given away to friends and family. I’ve carved one totem pole in my life, with the help from my friend Dorey Brotchie, for our school. I’ve painted a few potlatch curtains including the last one for Dory’s potlatch. A lot of my work has been for funerals, designing crosses and building and designing caskets.


I submitted artwork to our band to be displayed at our hotel if I was successful. I’ve never really tried to promote my work to the public as l am not well known anywhere near what my Uncle Joe and Grandfather Willie Seaweed’s work is. I’m very proud to have had the help to [hold onto who we are as First Nations from the likes off Harry Joseph, Henry Speck, Dorey Brotchie, Joe & Willie Seaweed.” Also, to my family who allowed me to help paint our two totem poles years ago before their passing, Harry & Albert Walkus and Willie & Henry George, Dennis McDougall, William Scow and Jimmy Walkus.”