Tag Archives: Haida Nation

2015 – A New Year, New Outlook and New Works


"The Harvest" ©2015 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 36"x48"

“The Harvest” ©2015 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 36″x48″

It’s been a long couple of years battling breast cancer, but I’m now feeling like I’m finally back on the horse. 2015 is looking like a brand new horizon and to ring in the new year, I’ve been back in the studio almost working full time. It’s a great feeling to finally have some control back in my arm and painting hand, and I have more paintings in my head than I could possibly paint in four lifetimes. I suppose that is what I love so much about  painting – it never gets old for me, and I’m always stretching, learning something new and finding that daily meditative space that only the canvas can offer.

I wish for you, a wonderful and fresh new outlook for this upcoming year, filled with beautiful artwork, good health, and happy days. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll stop now.

"Metamorphosis" ©2015 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 36"x48"

“Metamorphosis” ©2015 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 36″x48″

Rock the Boat! One Artist’s Experience in Haida Gwaii

Tanu'u Woman. ©2013 Janice Tanton. Digital print.

Tanu’u Woman. ©2013 Janice Tanton. Digital print.

One year ago today, I left Canmore for Haida Gwaii and a life-changing artist’s residency at Gwaii Haanas National Park. In a month’s time, I learned more than I could absorb, met new family and friends, saw, touched, smelled and heard things that were literally Super-Natural and was inspired and welcomed with open arms by the Haida Nation and the islanders.

I yearn to return there – more than anything in my life that I’ve wished for. I need to show my family everything there that I experienced. I’d move in a heartbeat. The inspiration has taken me a whole year of thinking, battling and painting to begin to work out. Haa’wa to all my friends and family on HG. I think of you every day.

In this short year, Harper’s government has slashed funding to Parks Canada and as a result, the same program that inspired me so, is no longer in place. No mind. I’m more determined than ever to express the beauty and mystery that just one oil tanker spill could destroy. All this time spent sick has given me time to think, and once I am on my feet….well, let’s just say I’m making it my life’s work.

Pledge to something or someone important in your life. As an artist, this is your duty.

Rock the boat.

Gwaii Haanas – The Need for a New Line at Lyell

"Sedgwick Camp - Gwaii Haanas" ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on panel. 6"x8"

“Sedgwick Camp – Gwaii Haanas” ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on panel. 6″x8″

Wow…what can I even begin to say and share with you regarding my recent trip to Haida Gwaii and the residency in Gwaii Haanas National Park, Marine Reserve and Haida Heritage Site? I’ll start just by sharing some works I created onsite in Gwaii Haanas and some thoughts about current context.

You have to understand the remoteness of this place. It’s a 20 hour, two day FULL drive from Canmore, AB – first on the Icefields Parkway to Jasper and then through the winding Yellowhead Highway country, though Prince George, along the banks of the Fraser and Skeena River systems, through the Pacific Coastal Mountains to the Port of Prince Rupert.

From there, it’s a 7 hour ferry ride, just to get to the island of Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands) and just in view of the shores of Alaska from it’s northern coast. And that’s just the first part of the journey! Epic in itself, just to get to Haida Gwaii.

From there, our group of five departed from Skidegate, another ferry ride from Skidegate to Alliford Bay and then through an hour and a half of potholed logging roads that you could swallow your truck, and humping gear over an “outed” bridge to the marine departure point at Deer Bay, Moresby Camp. Not a journey for the faint of heart!

Departing Moresby Camp, it was an hour long trip by boat on the trusty BC forestry services boat, the “Adelita” to our floating camp at the Bischof Islands in Gwaii Haanas. These waters are the fourth most dangerous in the world. Enough said, I suppose…

Using the Bischof Islands as our base, we headed out to many different locations in Gwaii Haanas. I created several works onsite where time and equipment landing would permit. I also worked on the boat, in watercolour creating sketches as we travelled the long distances between points. I’ll share those in a later posting with you.

The only communications in this area is by marine radio or satellite phone, both of which are sketchy at the best of times. When not sketching or painting, I spent a great deal of time in visual observation and in photography. There is never enough lifetimes to begin to paint what I have seen or experienced, but here is a short “bite” for those who are so eager to see what I did when I was there.



Athlii Gwaii – Sedgwick Bay Camp

Sedgewick Camp - Athlii Gwaii, Gwaii Haanas (Lyell Island)

Sedgewick Camp – Athlii Gwaii, Gwaii Haanas (Lyell Island)

This painting was done onsite at Sedgwick Bay, Athlii Gwaii (Lyell Island) where in  the autumn of 1985, a group of Haida elders travelled by helicopter  to engage in one of the first direct action efforts of first nations across the land. Conflicting interests that pit first nations against industrial development reached a boiling point. The Haida Elders created a line between the ancient rainforests and old growth cedar and spruce and the forestry companies that held timber licenses. Four Elders stood on the line at Lyell. Please see the clip below of excerpts from Urban Rez’s production of “Athlii Gwaii – The Line at Lyell”, exclusive footage from that time features touching interviews with elders; Ada Yovanovich and Adolphus Marks. Contemporary interviews were conducted with the Elders Ethel Jones and Watson Pryce in 2002. They shared their memories of that trying time. Sadly all four Elders have passed on but their act of selfless devotion to their beloved Haida Gwaii should be an inspiration to us all.

Visiting this place was a great inspiration for me. I would say it was one of the most stirring and inspiring moments of my visit. It was pouring down buckets that day, but I could hear the Elders and the protestors, firm in their convictions and in their hearts. Their spirits were all around me. There was even an old Chinese Checkers game still left in the main cabin. I sat in the doorway for a very long time, imagining what it might have been like for them all, to make a stand, bind together and speak out for what was right, not just for themselves, but for everyone.

I am grateful that the Haida Nation, these Elders and young warrior members stood so firmly to protect this place. We should do the same now, as the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project by Enbridge threatens once again, this magnificent culture and ecosystem in which we are all so interconnected. Stand up and speak out about the effects that this pipeline will have on habitat, culture and the ecology of our planet. Write your MP and the  official opposition. If you are international, write your own governments and let them know that this is an issue for all people.

Make yourself heard…and be part of the new “Line”. Do the right thing.


Gwaii Haanas Marine – Parks Canada Videos!

Here is where I’m going for the Gwaii Haanas Artist In Residency program.

Gwaii Haanas Marine is Canada’s newest national marine conservation area reserve.

This stunning marine environment is cooperatively managed by Parks Canada and the Haida and is a globally recognized model of shared management.


The CAMP Art Project Site


Press Release :: Janice Tanton Bound for Haida Gwaii – Gwaii Haanas National Park Artist in Residence 2012

Aerial View - Gwaii Haanas National Park - South, looking north on the archipelago

I’ve just been literally beside myself with excitement…giddy!…like a little girl for the past couple of days. I think I’ve come down far enough off my cloud now to be able to string just a few words together and pass along some very exciting news!

I got a call just before dinnertime on Wednesday from the Visual Arts Curator, Jen Wilson at the Haida Museum that I’ve been chosen, along with two other artists to be Artist in Residence for the 2012 Artists in Gwaii Haanas residency. I will be the “away” artist. I’m so honoured.

You simply cannot imagine how excited I am. I’d have to say this is one of the most pivotal moments in my life in having the chance to visit and participate in this incredible experience….and I want to bring you on that journey of discovery with me, through this blog and the CAMP blog (soon to be launched).

Responding to the call for applications earlier this year, I couldn’t help but vividly imagining the things that I would learn, the people and land that I would see and how beautiful it would be to fit this within my lifelong body of work. It’s truly a chance of a lifetime with a deep spiritual aspect for me. I have felt in my soul from the moment of learning about the residency, that I am supposed to go there. I’m learning, as always…to follow those little messengers inside of me. And here we go…

Artists in Gwaii Haanas is a collaborative effort between Gwaii Haanas National Park,  the Haida Gwaii Museum, and the Haida Nation. For 10 days in June, three artists (two artist residents of Haida Gwaii and one visiting artist) will be guided by a Parks Canada staff member into remote areas of Gwaii Haanas National Park. HOLY HAANAS! I’m so excited…did I say that already? PINCH ME!

Haida GwaiiWe’ll be journalling, sketching, making art and sharing our experience together at two public presentations in Masset and Queen Charlotte as part of the Gwaii Haanas summer Speakers Series. In the fall (November 2012), we are each producing a minimum of three works for a show, one of with will become part of the permanent collection to the Artists in Gwaii Haanas Collection at the Haida Gwaii Museum.

The two other artists that will form part of our group are Fanny-Pierre Galarneau and Darrell Oike. I am super-charged to meet both of these amazing artists and spend time with them in this sacred space and will bring you more on their work in upcoming posts.

Have you ever been to Haida Gwaii? If so, I would love to hear from you.