The University of Victoria commissioned the following artists to create works for the First Peoples House.
Additional two-dimensional art works displayed in the First Peoples House are co-ordinated by UVic Art Collections and change every six months.
Rande Cook (Kwakwaka'wakw)
Rande Cook was born on May 26, 1977, in Alert Bay, a small fishing village on Cormorant Island, situated on the northeastern coast of Vancouver Island. He was raised by his grandparents Gus and Florence Maltipi, and takes the Sun, Kolus and Sisiutul as his predominant family crest symbols. During his early years, Cook's grandfather discussed Kwakwaka'wakw traditional art forms with him, and Cook soon developed a passion for creating both Indigenous and Western art pieces.
Cook apprenticed with Master Carver John Livingston, who took the young Cook under his wing and helped open opportunities for him. In recent years, Cook has become skilled at jewellery making, inspired by the jewellery works of his cousin, Patrick Seaweed, and his brother, William Cook Jr.
Cook's work can be found in the Ceremonial Hall of the First Peoples House. His panels are carved out of red cedar painted with red, grey, green and black latex paint. They depict Thunderbird, Raven, Killer Whale and Wolf.
Moy ("Morris") Sutherland Jr. (Nuu-chah-nulth)
Morris Sutherland Jr. has ancestry in the Tla-o-qui-aht and Ahousaht First Nations. Born January 4, 1974 Sutherland grew up steeped in his Nuu-chah-nulth culture and traditions. He holds two Native names: his Nuu-chah-nulth name is "Hiish Miik", meaning "someone who gets whatever they are going after", and his second name is "Chiotun", a Coast Salish name meaning "someone who helps".
Encouraged by family and friends, Sutherland began his artistic career in 1995. He has studied carving with artist Joe Wilson, his uncle Mark Mickey (also a well-known carver) and the world-renowned artist Art Thompson. Sutherland has also worked alongside his friend, artist Carey Newman, in Newman's Blue Raven Gallery in T'sou-ke.
Sutherland's work is displayed in the Ceremonial Hall of the First Peoples House. His red cedar panels, which feature an original design, were first sandblasted by hand before being hand painted red and black.
Luke Marston (Coast Salish)
Luke Marston was born in 1976 to Jane and David Marston, both experienced carvers who served as his first teachers along with artist Wayne Young. Marston continued his education with carver Simon Charlie, who taught him about his people's history and traditional stories. Marston later assisted Charlie with the carving of four house posts for a public school in Seattle. He has also worked with carvers Jonathan Henderson and Sean Whonnock on a totem pole for the Royal British Columbia Museum's Thunderbird Park in Victoria.
Marston created four panels made from hand sandblasted red cedar that appear in the Ceremonial Hall of the First Peoples House. Hand painted grey, red, green, white and blue, Marston's panels display two different original designs, each presented in reverse. Two panels display a heron with a frog in its wing and the other two, an eagle and a salmon.
Doug Lafortune (Coast Salish)
Doug Lafortune was born in Bellingham, WA, in 1953. After attending school in Victoria, he studied Fine Arts at Camosun College in 1970 then enrolled in a heavy equipment operator's course and began work in logging. A visit to carver Simon Charlie's workshop sparked a desire in Lafortune to pursue his art, and he worked with Charlie to develop his unique and distinctive contemporary style.
Lafortune created two traditional freestanding cedar welcome figures that line the main entrance to the First Peoples House. The figure on the right represents a traditional Coast Salish man with a boy, and the figure on the left displays a traditional Coast Salish woman and child. Lafortune also created the silk screen print "New Beginning", which depicts Thunderbird and Killer Whale and serves as a classic identifying hallmark of original Coast Salish handcrafted work.
Xwa Lack Tun (Rick Harry) (Squamish Nation - Coast Salish)
Xwa Lack Tun (Rich Harry) is an artist of international renown. Born in Squamish, he received his Indigenous name of Xwa Lack Tun from his father, a Hereditary Chief who came from the Seymour Creek area, located in North Vancouver. Xwa Lack Tun also received the name "Da Shen" after killing a bear and taking on its spirit.
Xwa Lack Tun took his formal art training at Capilano College and the Emily Carr Institute. Healing, growth, love and universal respect all figure as key themes in his art.
Xwa Lack Tun carved the doors to the Ceremonial Hall out of red cedar. Both sides feature intricate designs, the exterior depicting Thunderbird and Salmon, and the interior representing Thunderbird and Killer Whale. Xwa Lack Tun's choice of bird is significant in that Thunderbird is known as a watcher over all peoples. Coast Salish eyes carved into the top border of the door reinforce this theme.
Chris Paul (Coast Salish)
Chris Paul is a Coast Salish artist from the Tsartlip Reserve, located near Brentwood Bay on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. He is internationally recognized for his limited edition giclée prints, cedar panels and glass sculptures. A number of Paul's prints have been featured on the hit television series Grey's Anatomy.
Growing up on the Tsartlip Reserve, Paul was immersed in the Nation's language, songs, stories, rituals and artistic expression. At the age of 26, he began an apprenticeship with carver Floyd Joseph. He went on to study for two years with renowned artist Roy Henry Vickers and also attended ‘Ksan, the Gitanmaax School of Northwest Coast Art, where he received intensive training.
Chris Paul's glass panel, located in the Students' Reading Room of the First Peoples House, depicts the Matriarch, "protector and holder of knowledge", and is made from etched glass and old-growth cedar.
Charles Elliott (Tsartlip - Coast Salish)
Charles Elliott is a member of the Tsartlip First Nation, located on the shores of the Saanich Inlet. He has devoted three decades of his life to reviving Coast Salish visual arts and sharing them with the community and general population. A mentor to countless emerging artists, Elliott also is a recipient of the Order of British Columbia.
Elliott's house posts, located outside the main entrance of the First Peoples House, represent the story of Frogs Emerging from the Great Flood. Frogs are traditional symbols of rebirth in Coast Salish culture and mark the beginning of a new year and the end of the winter season. The posts also feature a carved rope, which symbolizes ties between the Saanich people and the land. The rope also makes reference to a legend where the Saanich people used a rope to tie their canoes to the sacred Lauwelnew Mountain, thereby saving themselves from an oncoming flood.
In addition to his work for the First Peoples House, Elliott has received some prestigious commissions during his career, including the Queen's Baton for the 1994 Commonwealth Games and a Talking Stick that was a gift to Nelson Mandela.