Charles Elliott


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On June 29, 2005, Temoseng Charles Elliott was one of 15 British Columbians honoured with the Order of BC. Family and friends of the recipients gathered at Government House in Victoria for the ceremony, where Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnolo handed out the medals. The Order of BC, the highest form of recognition the province can extend, is awarded to outstanding British Columbians who have contributed to the province in exceptional ways.

Charles Elliott has always lived in W̱SANEĆ (Saanich) on southern Vancouver Island, and was inspired by his father, mother and other family members to become an artist. Saanich is a territory surrounded by industrialization and urbanization, where Coast Salish language, culture and arts have been overshadowed for generations. Through his outstanding 2-D and sculptural works Charles has expressed an unwavering commitment to the designs and visual language of his own people. At the beginning of his practice he was required to conduct extensive personal research, in order to locate images and information that he could bring back to life through his work. For almost 3 decades, he has worked to reawaken Coast Salish visual arts, and to share that cultural gift with his community, other artists and the general population. He has done this in a way that is quiet and remains close to home, where he has history, family and connections to a cultural community. During this time he has produced an enormous volume of work, while at the same time acting as a mentor to countless young and emerging artists.

Charles Elliott’s expression of Coast Salish identity has been motivated by a sense of responsibility to his ancestors and community rather than a desire for personal gain. As a volunteer on the Parent Advisory Committee of the L̵ÁU,WELṈEW̱ Tribal School and as one of the primary organizers and curators of the annual Coast Salish art exhibition in Saanich, Charles is a leader in his community. This sense of leadership is also expressed through his contribution to international ambassadorial works, such as the Queen’s Baton for the 15th Commonwealth Games in 1994, and the creation of a Talking Stick for Nelson Mandela.

It has been an inspiration to witness the devotion, generosity and work of Charles Elliott and to see the achievements of the many younger artists who have benefited from their contact with him. It is extremely fitting that Charles Elliott be appointed to the Order of British Columbia as someone who has enriched the lives of not only his contemporaries but those who came before and those who will come after.