Nuu-chah-nulth language champion Tim Masso holds his Rainy Coast Arts Award. (Jessie Masso photo)

Nuu-chah-nulth language champion Tim Masso holds his Rainy Coast Arts Award. (Jessie Masso photo)

Vancouver Island brothers receive 2020 Rainy Coast Arts Award

Tla-o-qui-aht’s Masso and Wenstob share Pacific Rim Arts Society honour

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers Timothy Masso and Hjalmer Wenstob are co-recipients of the 2020 Pacific Rim Arts Society’s Rainy Coast Arts Award.

Their names are forever connected to a prestigious list of west coast artists, including: Christine Lowther (inaugural Rainy Coast recipient in 2014), Joe Martin (2015), Mark Hobson (2016), Signy Cohen (2017), Joanna Streetly (2018), and Vi Mundy and Jacqueline Chamberland (2019 co-recipients).

“To win the [Rainy Award] is not just an acknowledgement by a small organization on the west coast, but it really speaks to the impact of your endeavour and how much it really is valued by the community. It’s not just a sports days ribbon, I think it really is an acknowledgement of significance,” said past PRAS president Mark Penney during the Nov. 8 AGM via Zoom Video.

For Masso, Penney said he has distinguished himself from a very young age as a champion of Nuu-chah-nulth language throughout the region, Canada and beyond.

“So many people have helped me on my journey for learning my language. There are so many thank yous. I have and I don’t think I have the time to do it. One thank you I want to put out there is elder Richard Mundy. He has helped me so much,” said Masso during the AGM.

Masso is currently in his third year studying Language Revitalization at the University of Victoria as well as finishing his Grade 12 courses online. He has been advocating for language since he was nine years old. Most recently, he helped the Ucluelet Co-op install Nuu-chah-nulth language signage as part of the major renovations project.

“Now we have language at the Co-op and there are so many people stepping up to bring language back into the community and it’s so wonderful to see just the fact the language is coming back,” Masso told the Westerly.

READ: Young Ucluelet local earns Indigenous Language Revitalization Diploma

After learning the Nuu-chah-nulth alphabet and hearing all the different sounds, Masso said he can actually hear the language in the waves and the land that surrounds him.

“The world that we live in is a living world of language and culture. I think learning language not only connects you to the culture, but it also connects you to the land,” he said.

Masso encourages everyone to continue speaking little words like Kleco (thanks) or Cuu (goodbye) in day-to-day conversations.

“Keep saying those. That’s the first big step to learning language. Don’t be afraid of judgment or offending anyone if you say it wrong. When I was first learning language I was pronouncing everything wrong. That’s just one step of learning,” Masso said.

Both Masso and Wenstob agree how wonderful it is to share the Rainy Coast award. They share a deep bond or “singular synergy” as PRAS executive director Sue Payne says.

About eight years ago, Wenstob underwent a brain operation. Masso stepped up to help him navigate the world post-surgery and that included taking notes for him as he studied arts the University of Victoria. When my brother got really depressed, recalls Masso, Elders at the First Peoples House would brush him down with cedar bows and do a prayer in Coast Salish.

“I could see the strength that it gave him. Once Hjalmer started feeling better, I wanted to learn my language from that. That’s what started by quest for language learning,” said Masso.

Wenstob, who owns Cedar House Gallery in Ucluelet, said he is inspired by his younger brother and the work that he does.

“The work that [Masso] does is about being humble and about being present and creating space. It’s a humbling and honouring feeling right now,” Wenstob said during the Nov. 8 virtual AGM.

“I look forward to being able to celebrate together when the time is right and we can come together in a safe way. I feel like one of the richest men in the world when I think back to all the people that have supported me along my journey,” Wenstob continued. He went on to acknowledge artist Carly Butler and the Nocture 2020 exhibit they worked on together for the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Penney eloquently describes Wenstob’s art.

“He tends to take things from a traditional perspective and smash them directly to a contemporary outlook. His work is very subtle and it’s nuanced, but it’s incredibly potent at its core,” Penney said.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ: Tla-o-qui-aht artist finds ‘wonderful moments’ in isolation

READ: Chris Lowther becomes Tofino’s second Poet Laureate

Arts and cultureIndigenous

Just Posted

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Members of the BC RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) were deployed to Drummond Park opposite of Fulford Habour on Saltspring Island after the discovery of a suspicious cylindrical-shaped device on Jan. 20. (Google/Screencap)
UPDATED: Bomb disposal unit still determining nature of suspicious device found on Salt Spring Island

Police say a resident discovered the device Wednesday morning in Drummond Park opposite BC Ferries terminal

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The objectives of the Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society include peer support for parents and caregivers, as well as developing support services, projects, educational and employment opportunities for people with Down Syndrome. Photo supplied.
Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society offers support for families in the community

New non-profit seeking directors in cities across Vancouver Island

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

The Rogers Creek Trail main trailhead is located on the Redford Extension in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Hiker rescued after cold few hours in the bush outside Port Alberni

Alberni Valley Rescue Squad said they receive frequent calls for people lost on this trail

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

The Victoria Fire Department extinguished a 15 foot tent fire in the 500-block of Ellice Street Jan. 19. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police investigating after 15-foot flames engulf tent

Flames damage nearby business in 500-block of Ellice Street

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Hecht Beach cabin in ashes. (Submitted)
Beloved secret cabin lost to fire on the North Island’s west coast

The trappers cabin was shared with locals, but kept mostly secret

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Most Read