Every household and every clan possessed its own history and traditions in the form of myths and legends. Often describing how an individual had met a supernatural being, in animal form, who had given ownership of certain privileges. These privileges are a highly important part of First Nations life and are retained by particular family groups through their laws of inheritance. Privileges gave an individual status in the community and were more highly valued than any material possession.
Salmon are honoured and celebrated by all coastal peoples: the fish serves as a powerful symbol of regeneration, self-sacrifice, and perseverance.
Shortages of salmon are traditionally attributed to human disrespect and refusal to listen to and live by the wisdom of elders. The Pacific Northwest Coast peoples believed that salmon were actually people with eternal life who lived in a large house far under the ocean. In spring, they put on their salmon disguises and offered themselves to humans as food.
The Nations believed that when entire fish skeletons were returned to the sea, the spirits would rise again and change into salmon people. In this way, the cycle could begin again the following year.
Chaz’s beautifully etched glass Salmon Panel pays tribute to First Nation culture, oral history and traditions. These are testament to an ideology in which we are all interconnected and part of the greater whole - each related to and affecting one another.
No. 3199 CP-Gastown All measurements height x width x depth
Chester (Chaz) Patrick, Gitksan Nation
1958 - 2008
Chester Patrick was born in 1958 and raised in the village of Gitanmaax near Hazelton, B.C. Always interested in art, Chester was schooled at an early age as a principal dancer with Ksan Performing Arts and later attended the Gitanmaax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art.
Under the guidance of Gitksan Elders and the tutelage of his instructors, Vernon Stephens, Ken Mowatt, Walter Harris, Earl Muldoe and Art Sterritt, Chester’s knowledge of his culture is reflected in his both design and context of his artistry.
During his time at Gitanmaax School he got the nickname “Chaz”- the letter “C” for his first initial and the “Haz” for the first three letters in “Hazelton.” Chester is more commonly known by his nickname Chaz, which he also uses to sign his completed works.
Since 1975, Chaz has worked as an artist. Although his pieces are created primarily in yellow cedar, which provides clean, well-defined cuts that highlight his design, he also paints original works in acrylic paints. Design and context are the fundamental elements found within all his pieces. His repertoire includes cedar flat relief, two-dimensional and three-dimensional design such as masks, bowls, spoons, miniature poles, frontlets, panels, and full-scale poles, while his original paintings illustrate design and oral traditions.
As an artist, Chaz’s gift is to communicate, celebrate and illuminate respect for his culture. Gitksan stories, legends, songs and dances inspire his artwork and he continues to be a student of his art; listening and learning from his culture both past and present. His work can be found in private collections, galleries and public institutions throughout North America and Europe.
2007 British Columbia Creative Achievement Award for First Nations' Art