“A Day in the Life” with Indigenous artist Calvin Hunt

Calvin Hunt, RCA, BC Achievement Award, is an exceptional Kwagu’ł artist with a passion for his work and his culture. Major museums, corporations, municipalities, and private collectors are clients of his work which ranges from small portrait-masks to totem poles and canoes.

Chief Tłasutiwalis, Kwagu’ł, Fort Rupert, Hereditary Chief Nas’a̱m’yus, Mowachaht, Friendly Cove is the son of a Hereditary Kwagu’ł Chief Thomas Hunt, and Emma, the daughter of a great Mowachaht Chief and Shaman, Dr Billy, from the Mowachaht of Yuquot. His Mowachaht Chief’s name comes from his mother’s father. His lineage guides him as he continues to create and share his knowledge and expertise.

Sharing his culture is important, particularly in this time of reconciliation. With his dance group, The Copper Maker Dancers, he has travelled extensively sharing his art, ceremony, and culture. Calvin sincerely believes it is our responsibility to feast and potlatch; everything we do to pass on our values and knowledge to our children and our future generations. Our ceremonies teach us respect, humility, honour, and integrity; it teaches us who we are and where we come from.

Calvin Hunt
Small mask, about 9” high features a human in morning as seen with the copper tears.
Calvin Hunt
CH Sun: a large sun mask, measuring 5’6” high, 6’5” across and weighing about 44 lbs. The client for this mask had a large space and we needed to make the Sun proportionate to the space.
Chunt Moon
This 30’ pole sits at the Port Hardy Coast Guard station facing Gwadzi (Port Hardy). This pole recognizes that the Coast Guard is situated in Kwagu’ł territory, representing the four families of the Kwgua’ł. This photo shows Calvin d-adzing the pole.
Copper Maker Dancers: a dance trip to Tallinn, Estonia. Many of our younger family members have had the opportunity to travel with us throughout Canada, the USA, Germany, Estonia and Belgium. We are a professional group sharing our culture whenever we have the opportunity.
Having fun with a pan shot of a part of my messy carving studio.
Calvin Hunt
Thunderbird Dance Costume: four-way transformation Thunderbird mask with cape, tail and leggings. Commissioned by the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Calvin Hunt
Norwester Pole: This pole is at Camp Nor’weste on John’s Island, WA. It is a part of the Camp Norwester collection of Northwest Coast Art. The original pole still stands on Lopez Island and was carved by Bill Holm. This is not a replica but has the same figures. Two of our children attended camp for several years and when they aged out, we sponsored two children each summer, until our grandchildren are old enough.


What Nation are you from?

Kwagu’ł (pronounced kwah-kee-oo-tl).

What do you do?

I am a self-employed Northwest Coast artist. I own and operate The Copper Maker Gallery with my wife, Marie. We also have a dance group, The Copper Maker Dancers.

What are you currently working on?

A portrait mask – which is a small mask representing a person in mourning, which would be worn for a short period of time at the beginning of a mourning ceremony. As well as this, I’m working on a ‘frontlet’ in human form representing an Eagle spirit, and a larger project that encompasses two 33’ totem poles. This pole project is unique and has taken time to finalize the size, the figures on the pole, as well as shipping and installation.

Where can we find your work?

I showcase my work via Facebook, on my website and at my carving studio & gallery at 114 Copper Way, Port Hardy, BC V0N 2P0.



About Demian Vernieri 484 Articles
Demian is an Argentinian retired musician, avid gamer and editor for the Montréal Guardian, Toronto Guardian, Calgary Guardian and Vancouver Guardian websites.