The people of Lax Kw’alaams have a storied history as musicians, sportsmen, artists, and storytellers with a sense of humor.
Our Future: Youth and Students
Tsimshian art was and continues to provide some of the most excellent monumental art, and fine art design pieces in the world. The abundance of natural resources provided the opportunity to adorn the traditional longhouses, regalia, and ceremonial pieces with stunning artistry and design proudly heralding the crests and lineages of Tsimshian people. Tribes such as the Tlingit claim that their art of weaving beautiful Chilkat blankets and other arts are can be traced to Tsimshian origins.
Contemporary Lax Kw’alaams artists such as Master carver, Wii Gwiinatt (Henry Green), and fine artist and designer Bill Helin continue to push the artistic boundaries first set by ancient ancestors. They have genorously donated the use of their images to this community website.
Other contemporary fine artists and carvers with their roots in from Lax Kw’alaams are:
Russell Mather William White Ed Bryant Sam Bryant Leanne Helin Terry Starr Shannon Thunderbird Alex Helin Jennifer Russell Roger Gray Corey Moraes Dorothy Jarvis Betty Sampson
Some famous historical Lax Kw’alaams carvers and artists are:
Frederick Alexcee Charles Dudoward
When Europeans first encountered the Tsimshians of Lax kw’alaams they were struck not only by how musical they were in their own cultural practices, but by how readily the took to European music and musical instruments. The Tsimshians of Lax Kw’alaams produced some of the finest church choirs in the northwest coast. As well, Lax Kw’alaams has created some of the finest brass and concert bands of the era. The photo below of the Nelson’s Coronet Band (ca. 1901) was taken on the morning of the reception in honour of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (later King George V and Queen Mary).
Lax kw’alaams brass bands, and subsequent concert bands, won many awards throughout their distinguished history, and were present at almost every cermonial and occasion and exposition.
The people of Lax Kw’alaams were always avid competitors in the arena of sports. In the past, two athletic clubs vied for supremacy in the community of Lax Kw’alaams. Families either belonged to the Young Peoples Athletic Association (YPEA) (had their gym on the waterfront) or the The Club Hall (having its located up the road. At New Years there would be heated competitions between the two clubs for supremacy in the Tsimshian sport of choice—basketball.
Some noted athletes from Lax Kw’alaam at the biggest Aboriginal basketball tournament in North America, the All Native Tournament are:
- Art Helin, MVP, 1962, 1966 (also winner of the prestigious Tom Longboat Award)
- Gary Reece, MVP, 1979
The YPEA and Club would also sponsor their own annual parties, the Snowball Frolic and the Garden Party respectively. Community members would look forward fondly to these great events.
At the beginning of every summer there would be a sports day that would feature track and field event, boat races, etc.
Today the youth enjoy a variety of sports at the community Leisure Centre.
Noted Tsimshians with Roots in Lax Kw’alaams:
Gayle Bedard, Educator & Aboriginal District Principal (Surrey) - Raised in Lax Kw’alaams (parents Ben and Merle Hughes)
Brenda Camfferman, Registered Nurse & Karate Instructor.
Henry Green, Master Carver - Distinguished artist born and raised in the community.
Bill Helin, Master Carver, Designer, Jeweler – Son of prominent Gits’’iis subchief “Hyemass”, Art Helin. more
CalvinHelin, Author, Lawyer, Karate Instructor & Entrepreneur – Son of former Chief of Gitlan tribe Sm’ooygit Niis Nuuga Noos (Barry Helin) and matron of Gitankangiik tribe Sigydm hana’a SuDalx (Verna Helin)
Rudy Kelly, journalist, humorist and playwright – Son of …
Gloria Mackerenko, Journalist and CBC News Anchor – Hails originally from the Reid family of Lax Kw’alaams.
Kerry Sugiyama, Programming Coordinator – Western, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network – Daughter of Brenda and Norman Moraes