šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énk Square

North of the Vancouver Art Gallery

My Family III

Richard Hunt


From the left, the design features a bear holding a baby bear. Bear is used in the dance of the Animal Kingdom and Mother bear is dancing with her baby. The bottom is the Sisiutl, or two-headed serpent. Sisiutl was the main crest of my mother, Helen. Sisiutl has supernatural powers and protects you. 

Holding on to the Sisiutl is Cedar Man and Woman. Cedar is our tree of life. Everything we do, from our cradles to our houses, comes from the cedar tree. When I dance, I dance with cedar bows on my wrists and ankles.

Above the Cedar Man and Woman are the hummingbirds which represent our children. In the centre is the Eagle with the sun’s face, which has transformed into a flower. Our people believe in transformation. The sun is a prerogative of our chief. The Eagle is sitting on the Sea Monster and the sea monster’s mouth turns into a door with a man looking out.

From the right, Eagle with a copper in its mouth. Eagle is the main crest of my village of Fort Rupert, B.C. Copper symbolizes wealth. Earth with the Moon. Earth is where we live, and the moon gives us light at night.

All these crests belong to my family from Fort Rupert, B.C. and this is our tree of life.

Richard Hunt was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia, in 1951 but has lived most of his life in Victoria. He began carving with his father, the late Henry Hunt, at the age of thirteen. In 1973,  Richard began work at the Royal British Columbia Museum as an apprentice carver under his father, Henry Hunt. The following year he assumed the duties of chief caver in the Thunderbird Park Carving Program. He remained in the museum in that capacity for twelve years. In 1986, Richard resigned to begin a new career as a freelance artist.

Richard comes from a family of internationally respected artists, which include his father, Henry Hunt, and his grandfather, Mungo Martin. Richard Hunt received the Order of British Columbia. Richard is the first native artist to be recognized. He also received the most prestigious award of his career, The Order of Canada. Richard has received the Golden Jubilee Medal and an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria. This prestigious award has a special meaning to Richard because his late father, Henry Hunt was awarded the same degree in 1983.

Richard Hunt’s Indian name is highly appropriate, considering his accomplishments. Gwe-la-yo-gwe-la-gya-les means “a man that travels around the world giving.” Through his art, and his dancing, Richard Hunt has indeed given much to the world.

The Lantern City is grateful to be held on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation). We acknowledge our privilege to be gathered on this land, and commit to work with and be respectful to the Indigenous peoples whose arts and stories inspire us to bring communities together.