July 4, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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Canucks Holtby apologizes for goalie mask facing cultural allocation allegations

Canucks Holtby apologizes for goalie mask facing cultural allocation allegations

“I’m definitely learned a valuable lesson from all of this and I’m sure I’m going well.”

Compared to the average hockey player, the goaltender exhibits a wider canvas for artistic expression. From custom-designed pads to specially painted masks, the goaltender’s gear is an opportunity to be creative and show some personality.

When Braden Holtby signed with the Vancouver Conks, he knew on this occasion that he needed new gear and especially a new mask. This means turning to his long-time mask designer David Gunnarsson, who has designed several masks for NHL players, including former Canucks. Jacob Markstrom And Lack of Eddie.

The design of the new mask from Holtby and Gunnarsson led to controversy, however, when Gunnarsson posted the mask on his Instagram. It is clearly inspired, if not directly copied, by Northwestern Indigenous art, but Swedish Gunnarson is not indigenous.

“I wanted to make sure I apologized to anyone who hurt me.” Holtby said in an interview with CTV News. “It’s definitely not my intention and I’m definitely learned a valuable lesson through all of this and I’m sure I’m going well.”

Holtby made it clear that he wanted to connect with his new home in Vancouver by incorporating indigenous art into his pursuit.

“It is important to try and choose their brain to include the indigenous artist and see how they design the mask to best represent the history and culture around the area, because it is so vast,” he says.

According to Gunnarsson, Holtby’s idea was to use the Thunderbird, one of the most powerful spirits in Northwestern Indigenous mythology. A typical view of the Thunderbird on top of the Tontum pillars, a replica of Carver Tony Hunt, the famous Thunderbird House post totem pole in Stanley Park, written by Quakwaka ‘Walk artist Charlie James. In fact, it was the perfect Thunderbird that Gunnarsson used in his design.

When it comes to Thunderbird design, the James family is clearly what they used to be Do not appreciate the reproduction of his work without credit.

“My grandfather’s totem pole in Stanley Park is one of the most appropriate homegrown designs anywhere,” Kwakwaka’wakw artist Lou-on Neil told a lecture in 2019. “Admitting that it’s his job … it hurts me a lot to see some poor reproduction of it. It’s embarrassing to watch.”

In his Instagram post, which has since been removed, Gunnarsson told the story of how big the killer whales from the sea are to lock in its claws. One of those killer whales, or orcas, was pictured at the bottom of the mask under the cage.

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The killer whale appears to be a replica of the artwork created by Dow Zilky, a non-native artist who has spent most of his life working in the Haida style. The piece was named “Thunderbird and Whale”. The main difference, aside from the colors, is the change in the teeth to fit more closely to the style of the Canx Orca logo.

The mask immediately raised concerns about cultural acquisition from many on social media. Others dismissed the concerns, saying some indigenous people were happy to see it gaining such a prominent place in the hockey world.

“I hope it’s a good learning experience.”

According to Qualis Sultun Elliott White-Hill, a Costa Rican artist and narrator from Snoonymax First Nation, Holtby did not want to use indigenous art on his mask, but it was not done by a native artist.

“Possession of indigenous art is harmful,” White-Hill said. “As a Coast Salish person I am privileged to have Coast Salish art and Coast Salish artists representing our lands. I think about the potential to show respect and representation and what it means to see it in a meaningful way, and what it means to see future generations representing themselves.

“So when there are opportunities and interest to respect and capture indigenous cultures and arts it is very frustrating and instead of doing so and going to the source, the appropriate methods are chosen and instead chosen.”

There is definitely a place for indigenous art on the ice, with White-Hill highlighting the work of musculoskeletal artist Debra Sparrow in Team Canada jerseys for the 2010 Olympics. That logo also includes Thunderbird.

“Braden Holtby thought it was important to connect with the regional indigenous culture in BC and wanted to celebrate and honor it with his mask,” White-Hill said. “It’s important and I’m excited for it. I hope it’s a good learning experience, and we’ll continue to look at opportunities to celebrate indigenous culture in the NHL.”

“We want to standardize this.”

Conax plays in the unlimited territory of the Salish people – Squamish, Stow: lo, Sleil-Wouth, and the Muskeem Nations – so it is appropriate to include Coast Salish art. However, that is not what Holtby appeared to be pursuing.

“The design cost is not salish. This is the QuakeUtl or QuagiUlt totem pole design, ”said Kwalaktun, a Squamish and Quakwakawak genealogist and carver. “It simply came to our notice then. It’s very simple: if there is a First Nation Art, it must be done by a First Nation Artist. ”

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At the same time, Xwalacktun wanted to make it clear that he was not putting any blame on anyone’s feet.

“We try to be kind, we don’t like to speak negatively towards another artist who wants to put the artwork on the helmet,” he said. “But at the same time, we want to standardize it.”

One problem with working with a non-native artist is that it takes work from indigenous artists, many of whom have a long family history of creating their own particular style. This does not mean that non – native artists cannot work with a particular indigenous style – Doug Zilki is an example of what an artist can do right – but it must be done in the right way.

“I think it’s a collaboration,” Xwalacktun said. “It builds that relationship with First Nations artists. If he wants to use his artist, he can work with a First Nations artist to help create it, then he can put it on the helmet. As long as he recognizes the other artist, it’s not a problem.”

“People thought it would be lost forever.”

In some cases, non-native artists helped keep indigenous art alive and in public discourse.

“If you look back to the early ’50s and’ 60s, Northwest Coast art was dying and anyone with an interest in what you knew was welcomed into the community,” said Calvin Hunt, a cousin of Thonybird’s carved Tony Hunt. House totem pole in Stanley Park పార్ and trained under him early in his career.

Hunt cited the famous art historian Bill Holm as an example.

“Bill’s knowledge and language about Northwest Coast art also really impressed people and they adopted him because there was someone trying to capture this art,” Hunt said. “People thought it would be lost forever.”

With that in mind, Hunt understood about using indigenous art on the Hultby mask.

“Some will agree with it and some will not. It will continue forever,” Hunt said of the non-native artists working in Indigenous styles. “You know what, that design went well. Most guys don’t have the ability to make that guy come forward. It was nicely done. It looks like it was taken from an iconic totem poll used for posters and advertising for Stanley Park. ”

However, Hunt tends to give more opportunities to indigenous artists.

“There are some great artists around and there is always a dilemma as to why people go outside the Northwest Coastal community,” he says. “My thing is, there are a lot of artists out there. Why does Holtby go to this other artist? ”

One of the benefits of working with a native artist is greater familiarity with the style and its history. The combination of quagmire-style Thunderbird and Haida-style killer whale is minimal, unless Holtby is specifically looking for a combination of multiple genres.

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“I had no idea Holtby wanted to use Quagiult art,” Hunt said. “I don’t know what he did to that artist. Did he know the difference between different tribes and cultures, I do not know. ”

Connex and indigenous art

Holtby was not the first Conx goaltender to be inspired by indigenous art for his goalie mask. When Ryan Miller joined Connex, he worked with his mask designer Ray Bishop to design the blue and green totem pole. Like Holtby’s new mask, it features the Thunderbird, this time on the chin.


This mask was not made in collaboration with a native artist. In fact, with his masks, Miller often makes the initial sketches himself.

Then there is the Canucks Orca logo, which features elements of Haida art in its design. The logo was created by Brent Lynch, without input from Haida artists. Since then, Connexes have established strong ties with the people of Haida Gwai, resulting in the formation of the Haida Nation Council Giving Haida Legacy Art Piece to Canucks in 2013.

An element of indigenous art that is fully integrated with the authentic Canucks న్ comes from Finn, Connex Muscat. He designed many of the drums used in Rogers Arena.

Although he works on Finn’s drums, Xwalacktun is always careful not to make any claim to the design of the Canucks orca.

“I still put their trademark on it, but I added a little flavor,” he said. “I don’t put my bear claw next to it, I put it on the side of the drum, because I don’t take ownership of the Connex logo.”

“I believe they will win the Stanley Cup before I die.”

Holtby made it clear that he would not wear the mask designed by Gunnarsson, but there may still be some new indigenous art that will hit the snow when the next Connex season begins. As Holtby wants to work with a native artist, his next mask should be more authentic.

No matter what mask Holtby wears, Calvin Hunt hopes he stays on top of his game.

“I’m also a Canx fan, so I’m looking forward to it,” Hunt said. “I believe they will win the Stanley Cup before I die.”