Carved cedar planks honour First Nations served by University of Northern British Columbia

Cree Dakelh artist Clayton Gauthier stands in front of Nenachalhuya – The Cedar Plank. He had spent spent 18 months working on the project featuring the logos of 32 First Nations from across northern B.C. (UNBC photo)Cree Dakelh artist Clayton Gauthier stands in front of Nenachalhuya – The Cedar Plank. He had spent spent 18 months working on the project featuring the logos of 32 First Nations from across northern B.C. (UNBC photo)
The logos of 32 First Nations that have been carved and painted onto cedar planks are now hanging on the walls of UNBC’s Lhuhuhwhezdel: Gathering Place. (UNBC photo)The logos of 32 First Nations that have been carved and painted onto cedar planks are now hanging on the walls of UNBC’s Lhuhuhwhezdel: Gathering Place. (UNBC photo)

Nak’azdli Whut’en near Fort St. James is one of 32 First Nations that has had its logo carved onto a cedar plank to represent the various and diverse nations the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) serves.

Nenachalhuya – The Cedar Plank was unveiled at UNBC’s First Nations Centre in Prince George on Friday, Sept. 10.

Pronounced neigh-NA-cha-LEE-YAH, Nenachalhuya is a Dakelh word meaning, “You have done us great honour” or “We are thankful for what you have done.”

The planks were made by Cree Dakelh artist Clayton Gauthier who. had spent 18 months carving the official submitted logo of a northern B.C. First Nation as well as painting.

In a news release, Gauthier said that he hopes that when the public sees the planks, they are more mindful of how diverse the nations truly are.

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“Each nation within each territory holds stories of the land,” he said. “Many different art forms, many different animals, stories and teachings. We have so much to learn.”

When the project was almost complete, Gauthier said he had looked back at the time he had spent on it with amazement.

It has been his largest project to date.

“This project was a test of many things – commitment, patience, doing my best with each piece and being mindful that these will be here after I leave here knowing that these will be here for generations to come,” Gauthier added.

UNBC interim president Dr. Geoffrey Payne said the carvings that now surround the walls of UNBC’s Lhuhuhwhezdel: Gathering Place are another example of the work that the university is undertaking around reconciliation.

“It’s an opportunity for our students, staff and faculty, as well as the public to learn more about nations that are represented and break down barriers between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to understand one another,” Payne stated.

Read More: Indigenous artist celebrates and shares culture through his creations


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