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Exhibit celebrates the cultural legacy of the Henderson family

Exhibition brings fresh insight into a life-long commitment to their cultural heritage.
Master carver Bill Henderson will be joined by his nephews Junior and Greg Henderson in an exhibition at Courtenay’s Spirits of the West Coast Art Gallery entitled “Looking After a Legacy: Through the Grains of Cedar” Sept. 3 to Dec. 31. Photo contributed

Kwakwaka’wakw artists Bill Henderson, Greg Henderson and Junior Henderson of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation in Campbell River will honour the legacy of carver Sam Henderson in an exhibit this fall entitled Looking After a Legacy: Through the Grains of Cedar.

This exhibition at Spirits of the West Coast Art Gallery from Sept. 3 to Dec. 31 is rooted in the profound desire by the artists to carry on the legacy of their father and grandfather, Master carver Sam Henderson. Sam lived his life dedicated to the preservation of Kwakwaka’wakw knowledge and culture, and used the practice of carving to preserve these ancient traditions. It is a legacy he has left behind for the next generation of carvers.

The Henderson family to this day is a highly respected family of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation. Bill Henderson, son of Sam Henderson, is a Master carver in the art of “making wood speak.” Junior Henderson and Greg Henderson are both grandsons of Sam Henderson and represent the third generation of exceptional potlatch carvers. Their carvings and totem poles are celebrated throughout the world and can be seen in Asia, Europe, North America and especially in many communities along our beautiful Northwest Coast.

Their masterpieces are highly collectible and are represented in many national and international exhibitions and galleries.

When you visit this exhibition, you will see over 20 masterpieces including a wide variety of dramatic masks, stunning frontlets, amazing totem poles, paddles and a beautiful talking staff. This exhibition and sale brings fresh insights into the Hendersons’ life-long commitment to the continuity and diversity of their cultural heritage.

In the spirit of Looking After A Legacy: Through the Grains of Cedar, Bill has followed his father’s path by sharing the tradition of carving with the next generation, including his nephews Greg and Junior Henderson. Greg and Junior – esteemed carvers in their own rights – join Bill in this exhibition and sale as a showcase of how traditions are passed down and carried forward.

Join them on Sept. 3 at 11 a.m. for the opening celebrations. You will see the Henderson family perform and witness the opening of this important exhibition. The artists will be on-site until 3 p.m.

Looking After A Legacy: Through the Grains of Cedar, will also be presented in an innovative virtual format including the live-streamed opening celebration on Facebook and Instagram at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3.

The exhibition and sale is open to the public at 2926 Back Road, Courtenay.

Visit the website at and follow us on Facebook @spiritsofthewestcoast, Instagram @spiritsofthewestcoast and Twitter @spiritsgallery for the latest news, artist talks, and exhibition features.

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