People / Simon Charlie

Artist, activist. Also known as Hwunumetse’. Simon Charlie was born in 1920. A master carver of the Cowichan tribe of the Coast Salish First Nation, Charlie was awarded the National Centennial Medal (1967), the Order of British Columbia (2001), and the Order of Canada (2003) for his work to preserve and promote the traditions of his people and for acting as a cultural ambassador to non-First Nations peoples. From the late 1960s to the time of his death, he carved the equivalent of twenty-two logging truckloads of cedar logs, and his totem poles stand in the Royal British Columbian Museum, at the Parliament building in Ottawa, and also in Holland, Australia, Washington State, Georgia, and New York. As a part of a delegation of elders, Charlie carved a totem pole with Maori carvers in New Zealand. Charlie’s masks and other works are included in collections in South America, the United Kingdom, Finland, Holland, Germany, and Japan. Charlie passed away in 2005.