New plaques cut across generations

Coast Salish artist Temoseng Charles Elliot Jr carving in his family workshed
Coast Salish artist Temoseng Elliott carving in his family workshed.

Five new award plaques carved by Coast Salish artist and WJOȽEȽP (Tsartlip) Nation member Temoseng Elliott continue many traditions passed on by his father, master carver Temosen-THUT Charles Elliott – including the tradition of carving award plaques for the Faculty of Humanities.

For more than twenty years now, the father and son have crafted plaques for the Humanities staff and faculty awards, which are given out annually to recognize those who make outstanding contributions to the Faculty’s mission and community.

This fall, Temoseng added five new award plaques to the three originals, of which two were carved by his father and the third carved by the two together. The newly expanded collection was then mounted in the Clearihue boardroom, after the names of this year’s award recipients were added.

Temoseng Elliot Jr. and his father, world-renowned Coast Salish carver Temosen-THUT Charles Elliott, delivering a plaque they carved together for the Faculty of Humanities in 2002.

“I think of my public works as a contribution to the communities outside my First Nation community. Here I have the opportunity to share our teachings, history and stories. I see these as opportunities to improve our understanding of each other,” says Elliott.

“We have come a long way with Salish art and I appreciate all my dad has contributed to its resurgence. Now it’s me and my brother Matt carrying on the tradition together. With all of the work we do, we use a traditional form of communication to honour our topic with respect. To us respect is our most important form of tradition.”

Temoseng Elliott’s artwork extends to designs, carved sculptures, and paintings large and small. Locally, his public works can be seen at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, Saanich Peninsula Hospital, First Peoples Cultural Council and Sidney Town Hall. One of his carvings – a panel commissioned by the Town of Sidney – was gifted to Sidney’s sister city in Nimii, Japan.

“It is a great honour to house these beautiful works, which participate in the rich Coast Salish tradition and show the incredible talents of both father and son," says Humanities Dean Annalee Lepp. "They add great meaning and value to our Faculty’s highest awards, for which we are deeply grateful to the Elliott family.”


The artist's descriptions of his work


Internationalization Award


This award recognizes the member of the Faculty of Humanities who has made the most significant contribution to further the UVic International Plan.

Plaque: Orca

“The idea behind the orca and wave design is to symbolize the relationship between the waters, which connect all of our peoples across the globe, and the orca, which is a guardian of these waters. The orcas exemplify family, unity and teamwork within their daily ambitions.”




Early Career Excellence in Research Award


This award recognizes and encourages research excellence among early career scholars in the Faculty of Humanities.

Plaque: Blue Heron

“The design for this award plaque is a blue heron. I chose this design because the heron exemplifies patience. They are one of the most patient beings in all of the world. They use their dedication and patience as long as they need for it to pay off. They observe for countless hours, using their timing and action for the result they seek. I felt this was fitting for the early career award as it relates to work in the early stages. Patience and persistence are valuable to continue when times get tough and results don’t show right away. The blue heron is an example of those virtues that lead to success.”


 Engaged Scholar Award 


The Engaged Scholar Award is given to the scholar who has, in the past three years, best exemplified the Faculty’s mission to use Humanities knowledge to effect positive social change.

Plaque: Salmon

“The design shows salmon moving different directions. The name of the salmon in our native language translates to ‘working people.’ Understanding the importance of salmon, we value them as very sacred for their role in each of the societies of the natural world. We consider them as a giving people: they give life to many in the web of life and they maintain many different ecosystems with their existence. The reasoning for choosing this design for this award comes from a perspective, a view of the world. Our Saanich people refer to each of the different species of plants, animals and communities as a people, and the salmon people play a key role in supporting the peoples of our world.”

 Həuistəŋ Award


This award is named in the lək̓ʷəŋən language. The word ‘həuistəŋ’ means to honour or bring forward. This award recognizes the member of the Faculty of Humanities who has made the most significant contribution to advance UVic’s Indigenous Plan.

Plaque: Wolf sitting on a bentwood box

“This award design uses a wolf. It was passed on to me that the wolf symbolizes balance. They bring balance to the natural world and for that they are considered the protectors of our people. A great example of their stewardship in the circle of life is when they were reintroduced to Yellowstone national park in the 1990s. The exploding elk population was over-grazing the trees, bushes and plant life. When the wolves returned, they pressured the elk population to keep moving, which allowed the willows and aspens along the stream to grow back and support the streams and water life. This allowed the beaver population and many other forms of animal life supported by these plants to recover as well. I chose to use the wolf for this design to symbolize the balance keeper – the one working towards bringing a balance of the Indigenous teachings and education with the teachings and knowledge of western world.”

 Teaching Excellence Award


This award recognizes and encourages excellence in teaching in the Faculty of Humanities.

Plaque: Owl

“An owl was used for this design. Viewed as one of the more wise peoples/animals of our circle, this was chosen as a symbol of a teacher. Our people have many different teachings around the owl. One of them is that they are a connection between this world and what we call the spirit world. I view this teaching as a relation to the past, present, and future – just as teachers play a role in the passing of knowledge from the past to the future. With their humble presence in our society, they are key figures to creating our future by contributing to our understandings of the world around us.


Read more:


 Article and feature image by Philip Cox