Simon James

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My name is “Winadzi”, which means the Raider. A name given to me by my Grandfather, Chief James Aul Sewid of the Kwicksuteniuk/Mamalelakala clan of the Kwakwakewakw people. My nickname however is Simon Daniel James, given to me by my mother, Mabel Sewid James and my father, Tahnis, Simon Dick James . I was born in Alert Bay B.C. on February 18th 1969. I moved to Campbell River at a very young age and lived there for most of my life. I moved to North Vancouver in September 1996 to attend the Vancouver Film School, Classical Animation and 3D Animation courses.

                I started drawing at a young age and was always fascinated by the artistic styling of my people. I started carving at the age of 15. My ambition at the time was to dance my own mask, I soon accomplished this by dancing my own thunderbird headdress that a friend purchased from me and still keeps in his collection today. After that I soon came to realize that people liked my artwork and became more involved in the world of carving.

                I worked hard and learned much from my father and other carvers such as Wayne Alfred and Beau Dick. I worked with other artists such as Max Chickite and Patrick Logan and entered into the district level of competition in 1994 in Campbell River. I won an award of excellence and was encouraged to continue up to the regional and finally the provincial levels. I won awards of excellence there as well. I entered another mask the following year and won at the district level and decided to stop after finding that the competition for the district was out of town and I was very busy at the time to continue.

                My carving style has been criticized by my peers and family as being wild and untamed. I take this criticism well as I consider myself as being the same. Despite this criticism, I have been dealing with the top galleries here in the North West coast. My work has been sold internationally and I have several return clients. I consider my works as being on the contemporary side and non-traditional and non-conforming. I have done traditional pieces for myself and for traditional event such as potlatches. I believe strongly in my culture and practice several culturally beneficial ways for myself and the next generation to learn from. I am a dancer, writer and story teller, through these I hope that the younger generation that follows will not forget where they come from and continue with the culture and traditions that I was taught by my ancestors before me.

                I have been working with my friends and family to better the understanding of the native people of this land. We have traveled to several different cities with the Down from the Shimmering Sky Show since it opened in the summer of 1998. We have been selected to open and close the exhibit with song dance and story telling. The story telling has always been important to me. It is this, that has pushed me further into the animation industry as a producer/director of animated films. I believe that the understanding of the stories and the content and characters, as well as how to design them has given me an advantage that should help me excel in this industry.

                On May 12, 2001 I was able to complete and deliver my first totem pole of 16 feet 1 inches to be shipped to Fukushima, Japan. I will Be attending the Exposition for three months in the summer of 2001, where I will carve two 7 feet totem pole for the same Expo.

                It is my wish to continue to sing, dance, carve, paint and tell stories to educate the younger generation as my ancestors did before me. I still have so much to learn but I am willing to do so clean, sober and healthy for myself, family and next generation after me. Long after I am gone my works and impressions that I leave will allow me to continue to live on for as long as people enjoy that what I have given.

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16' Totem

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Simon James