Simon Charlie

Coast Salish


Duncan, BC

Simon Charlie (Hwunumetse') was a renowned Coast Salish artist who was named a 2003 recipient of the Order of Canada for his contribution to education and preservation of his cultural heritage. He was trained by famous Kwakwaka'wakw artist Henry Hunt, who mentored him in carving totem poles. Charlie carved poles using traditional Salish techniques, and described his knowledge of oral tradition of the Hul'quminum language as inspiring his totem designs.  In addition to the Order of Canada, Charlie received the National Centennial Medal in 1967 and the Order of British Columbia in 2001. He was prolific, and his totem poles stand in the Royal BC Museum, the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, New York, Chicago, Holland, New Zealand, and Australia. His artworks and masks are found in collections in North and South America, Europe and Japan. Charlie was passionately committed to the preservation and maintenance of the traditions, language, arts, and culture of his people. His dedication to passing on his knowledge to the younger generation by mentoring young Coast Salish artists in traditional methods and designs can not easily be matched.