{ Artist’s Inspiration. }


Strewn in the wake of the Indian Residential Schools are an immeasurable number of broken or damaged pieces. These fragmented cultures, crumbling buildings, segments of language, and grains of diminished pride are often connected only by the common experience that created them. Imagine those pieces, symbolic and tangible, woven together in the form of a blanket. A blanket made from pieces of residential schools, churches, government buildings, and cultural structures.

A blanket where the story of each piece is as important to its construction as the wood and screws that hold it together.

A blanket with the sole purpose of standing in eternal witness to the effects of the Indian Residential School era – the system created and run by churches and the Canadian government to “take the Indian out of the child”. Left alone, these pieces may be forgotten, lost, buried, or worse – be uncomfortable reminders that leave painful impressions on the minds and hearts of those who recognize what they represent. Individually, they are paragraphs of a disappearing narrative. Together they are strong and formidable, collectively able to recount for future generations the true story of loss, strength, reconciliation and pride.

Carey Newman (Ha-yalth-kingeme)

Master Carver


“I consider myself a contemporary artist with a traditional soul. I try to innovate, creating movement and suspended animation within my work. At the same time I work strictly within the rules of my traditions. Rooted in tradition while looking to the future, and trying to reflect the world that we live in today. Perfection is in the details and details go on forever, therefore my work is never done. My style is distinguishable by moving lines anchored to traditional figures. If one can see where my figures will make their next movement, I have begun to succeed.”


With a strong belief in the importance of tradition, Carey is active within his culture, a role for which he has been given the traditional name Ha-yalth-kingeme. Under the influence and support of his father and mother, Carey developed his artistic ability and cultural knowledge from an early age. His father Victor, his great, great grandfather Charlie James, and his great aunt Ellen Neel, all renowned wood carvers, each contribute to the artistry in his blood.

Being of British, Kwagiulth and Salish descent, Carey has been able to draw upon each of these cultures for his inspiration. While this does add a contemporary flare to his work, he is very careful to adhere to traditional rules and values. Finding ways to innovate without disregarding history is extremely important to him. Carey is always looking for ways to improve his artistic repertoire.

Mastering as many techniques and mediums as possible is one of the keys to his continual inspiration. Wood, stone, gold, silver, gems, glass, painting and more recently steel and bronze are all mediums that Carey works with. A dedicated artist, Carey’s goal is to follow the footpaths of those who influence him the most: his father, for his belief in artistic integrity, quality, and self-respect, and Bill Reid, for his ability with many mediums.

Carey opened the Blue Raven Gallery on Vancouver Island in 1996. With the help of family, the gallery continues to showcase not only his work, but also that of his father Victor and his mother Edith. After completing 20 plus sell out editions he moved on to numerous private commissions from around the world.

In 2008, Carey was selected as the master carver of the Cowichan 2008 Spirit Pole, a journey that saw him travel the province of BC sharing the carving experience of carving a 20’ totem with over 11,000 people. In 2009, Carey was selected from a national call to artists by VANOC and won the right to create a large installation. His piece entitled “Dancing Wind”, featured during the 2010 Olympic Games, consisted of 4 large panels, made from stainless steel, cedar and glass. He has done work for corporations, government agencies and museums around the world and is continually thankful for the opportunity to try new ideas.

Carey’s involvement with the cultural community extends beyond his artwork. He is continually learning about his history and traditions and has taken a leadership role in mentoring younger artists. He has recently completed a totem with the “EAGLE Project” a life-skills and employment program that incorporates carving with Aboriginal youth as a cultural component. This was the second totem that he has created through this mentorship program.

Carey’s next project is to create a National Monument titled “Witness: Pieces of History” as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Commemoration Initiative. This work, inspired by a woven blanket, will incorporate actual pieces of residential schools, churches, government buildings and traditional structures from all across Canada.

As a musician, he studied piano at the University of Victoria and voice at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. He has won several awards in both piano and voice, performed solo roles with the Pacific Opera in Victoria and now serves on their Board of Directors. On several occasions has sung on national television, including the recent 2012 National Aboriginal Achievement Awards in Vancouver BC. Carey also enjoys spending time with his wife Elaine, playing with his baby daughter Adelyn, walking his dog Haley.



Victoria Native Friendship Center
Managing Partner

The Victoria Native Friendship Centre (VNFC) has been in existence for 40 years.  The Victoria Native Friendship Center provides services to an estimated 15,000 Aboriginal people living off reserve in the greater Victoria area; as well as the 5,000 residents from the First Nations communities in the southern Vancouver Island region, in addition to a sizeable Aboriginal population from across Canada. VNFC takes great pride in their exceptional approach to First Nation social issues. They will be providing administrative and organizational support throughout the process of creating Witness: Pieces of History.

We acknowledge Contributions from:

the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada
and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

The Rina M. Bidin Foundation

Media One

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres

Acumen Communications

Images courtesy of the United Church of Canada Archives.