A Love of Northwest Coast First Nations Art Turns Into a Scholarship

Northwest Coast Art inspires a couple to create a scholarship for a First Nations student.

Freelance writer Bruce Byfield and his partner Patricia Williams have turned their love of Northwest Coast First Nations art into a $1,000 scholarship for a student over 25 years of age.

The couple shared a passion for collecting the art until Williams’ passing in 2010—the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art Mature Student Award was established in 2009. The couple’s appreciation for the art and hard work put into it is where the idea of a scholarship came from.

“We wanted to give something back,” said Byfield in a press release. They chose to support the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art because, as he puts it, “It’s the major carving school in B.C.”

And his reasoning for specifying that the winner be mature is because going back to school “is psychologically harder for older students—it’s a bit of a culture shock,” Byfield says in the release.

The 2011 winner is Barry Sampare, who as a first year student at the Freda Diesing School was featured in the 2011 student exhibition, Awakening: Beyond Tradition. At the exhibition, last year’s award winner Carol Young gave a eulogy for Williams, and spoke about her interest in Northwest Coast Art.

“Then she announced that, in honor of Trish, each student would take a rose and hand it to someone in the audience,” said Byfield in his blog, Off the Wall. “That was it. I lost all hope of control and started crying. By the time Carol announced me, I could barely see for crying.”

Byfield would like the award to become permanent beyond his life. To help him with that quest by donating, contact Jill Pimlott, Northwest Community College associate registrar at 250-638-5477.