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UNBC launches Nenachalhuya – The Cedar Plank Project

Cree/Dakelh artist Clayton Gauthier is carving designs on cedar planks to represnet various and diverse northern B.C. First Nations communities. Once completed, the 32 panels will be displayed in the Gathering Place. UNBC photo

Cree/Dakelh artist Clayton Gauthier will be at the University of Northern British Columbia’s Prince George campus carving cedar planks that represent various First Nations that once completed, will surround the walls of the university’s Gathering Place.

The artwork on each of the 32 panels has been submitted by the various and diverse northern B.C. First Nations communities which they have chosen to reflect their community and students.

It’s all part of Nenachalhuya – The Cedar Plank Project.

Nenachalhuya is a Dakelh word meaning, “You have done us great honour” or “we are thankful for what you have done.”

“This is a special opportunity for the University to partner with multiple Indigenous communities in the spirit of reconciliation,” said UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks. “This project allows the entire campus community to learn from a highly-respected artist as he shares his expertise and knowledge. Clayton Gauthier’s meaningful artwork will grace the walls of the Gathering Place for years to come.”

Gauthier will be on campus twice per week in Rm 7-204 near the Canfor Winter Garden, across from Security. All are welcome to join Gauthier while he works, and to observe the creation of UNBC history.

From 9 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Thursdays, Gauthier will work independently. People are welcome to observe from outside the room, which has glass walls. From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, everyone is welcome to join him to chat and learn while he’s working.

Gauthier said it’s an honour for him to share his work and also learn from other Nations, learn their art forms, and learn their stories. He hopes to share the importance of art with UNBC community members as they observe and watch him each week.

“I really see the significance of art within the community and worldwide,” he said. “Art is a powerful gift that we have from the Creator. We are surrounded by art, so having that understanding that this is art from this territory, I feel that’s really important.

“As Indigenous people, we travelled by art. The rock paintings and the rock carvings, we travelled by those, so they were really important.”

The art that Gauthier produces revolves around his traditional teachings that he has learned from Elders, the Spirit within and our Mother Earth. Throughout his art journey, he has completed many logos, murals, drums, rattles, carvings, tattoos and digital art. He’s also a published author of the children’s book, The Salmon Run.

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