The Skeena Salmon Arts Festival Society was recently honoured with the prestigious Lieutenant Governor’s arts and music award for visual arts, in recognition of the society’s work to promote public art in northwest B.C.
Planned prior to Queen Elizabeth II’s death to coincide with the celebrations of her platinum jubilee, eight of the awards recognize leadership and mentoring in the fields of visual arts, music or performance.
Terrace-based Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en artist Stephanie Anderson attended a ceremony at Government House in Victoria in September alongside Métis and Sto:lo artist Amanda Hugon, where they received the award from Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C.
“It was an honour to represent the Skeena Salmon Arts Festival Society,” said Hugon, who is also on the board of directors for the First Nations arts collective. “It is an honour for our organization to be recognized for the work we do to bring high quality public art to northwest B.C.”
The Skeena Salmons Arts Festival is a non-profit founded in 2018 that focuses on public art in Terrace and the northwest. For the past five years the society has partnered with property owners, businesses, the City of Terrace an dothers on projects like murals, sculptural installations and banners.
Its yearly art exhibit showcases artists who focus on the northwest’s connection to salmon.
Dave Gordon, the society’s president, said the award acknowledged the group’s commitment to social equity, equality, inclusion and enhancing the well-being of communities.
“We just look at all realms of art and artists in our community and try to pull them into the work that we’re doing and we’ve had success in doing that,” said Gordon, adding that there’s more in the works to look forward to.
“Before we started there was very little in terrace in terms of First Nations representation in public art and I think we’ve been changing that quite successfully.”
The society has been so successful in that regard that Gordon said communities as far afield as Montreal, Quebec and more locally Kitimat, Smithers and Prince Rupert have reached out for feedback.
Gordon added that’s thanks to the professional northwest artists who embraced the society and got involved.
“That’s just how it happened. We’ve got graduates at [the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art] here in Terrace, and other artists who have graduated from Emily Carr and other art schools.
“Working with the professional arts community has been a real win for us.”
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