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Sarah Jim

Artist Sarah Jim smiling on a beach.
  • Category: Emerging Alumni Award
  • UVic degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts, 2019
  • Current hometown: North Saanich, BC
  • Birthplace: Saanichton, BC

About Sarah

Sarah Jim is a visual artist of mixed ancestry from the small village of Tseycum in W̱SÁNEĆ. She works in the field of environmental restoration. Her creations reflect and advocate for the beautiful territory that the W̱SÁNEĆ have stewarded since time immemorial. Her art has been displayed across southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands and garnered numerous awards.

A common thread throughout Jim’s work—which includes a territorial acknowledgement plaque for a public library, T-shirt designs, street banners, multiple murals around the territory and native plant signs at the Horticulture Center of the Pacific and UVic’s community garden—is her desire to use art to create awareness and celebrate the historic and ongoing relationship between the W̱SÁNEĆ people and the land, sea and sky.

What's your favourite memory of being a UVic student?

I really miss learning. In early September when you’d go back to school, you’d have all of this excitement of opportunity awaiting you, and be looking forward to expanding your knowledge and meeting new people. I also found solace and comfort at the First Peoples House. I would walk down that hallway and look at all of the artists being exhibited, and they were always phenomenal. It was really inspiring and comforting to see work of all of these Coast Salish artists.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

At the very end of my UVic time, I started working in the field of environmental restoration and falling in love with the native plants, foods and medicines we have here and Indigenous ways of being. But my art wasn’t really reflecting that Coast Salish side of me because I didn’t want to have to explain who I was every time, because I’m pretty white-passing and it just didn’t feel comfortable to me to be in that space as an Indigenous person. So I just didn’t do it. But then in my very last painting course, I made this piece that was all native plants with Coast Salish elements, and I was really happy with it, and my teacher said that it was the best thing I made all year and I should have been doing this the whole time. That was a really big turning point for me and my career.

What skills or traits are needed to be good at what you do?

Probably discipline, which I don’t have often. There is this trope of an artist being expressive and floaty and doing whatever they want, but really it’s like any other job. If you decide to pursue it, even if it’s not lucrative, artists will sit down and work even if they don’t want to. That’s definitely a skill that I’m trying to work on.

What is the best advice someone has given you?

I wish I could remember all the good things that people have said to me, but I know that in this field it’s really easy to undervalue yourself. And I have done that multiple times and it never feels good. So often people tell me, never underestimate yourself. You just have to believe in what you do and value yourself.

What is something you do for yourself every day?

I wake up and I make the tea that I love. Lately, I’ve been journaling. I’ve been trying to stretch and take care of my body. Reading is really nice. I just joined a book club, which is very exciting. I try to take care of myself and be aware of my actions and how they affect me.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I was the youngest of 5, so there was not much pressure on me to do anything. I really lived in the moment and didn’t project where I would be as an adult. I thought being famous would be cool when I was idolizing Britney Spears and all that. Now I don’t think it would be cool.

What's the last great thing you've read and or watched?

Dawn by Octavia E. Butler. She was a Black female writer in the ’80s. It's this sci-fi novel about humans ruining earth so these aliens captured them for a breeding program. They breed with different species to make themselves better. Super good.

What’s your advice to a younger person uncertain about their future?

Just take a chance, because you never know where you’re going to end up. That’s essentially what I did. I started doing markets. I had the audacity to try to sell my things, and a lot of my friends and family supported me. And then even strangers were supporting me, too. Put yourself out there and don’t be too shy because people are going to judge you no matter what, so you might as well just do it.

About the Distinguished Alumni Awards

Nominations for the 2024 awards are now closed. Nominations for the 2025 Distinguished Alumni Awards are open through Oct. 18, 2024.