Janis Dahlen could not contain her joy and excitement Wednesday as she chose the blue, yellow and white print of a figure skater with a hummingbird motif in the background.
The print is one of a series of sports and First Nations-inspired artworks by Andy Everson, who visited Northern B.C. Tourism Plaza to share the stories behind his Spirit of Snow and Ice Collection.
The collection was originally created for the Olympics in Vancouver but Everson said it is just as relevant for the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
Dahlen won the chance to choose a print after she correctly answered a question about the signature animal element (a hovering hummingbird) of the artist’s work.
“I wanted it for my granddaughter, Olivia,” Dahlen told the Free Press.
“I heard about the talk and came down today hoping I could win it. Oliver had her eye on this (print) so I can’t wait to give it to her. It’s going to be such a surprise. She’s skating at 5:30 tonight – and I’m so excited to watch her skate.” (Gran finished up with silver at the competition.)
The early athletic accomplishments of Olivia Gran of Kelowna, Dahlen’s granddaughter, are a source of pride, she said.
“She’s only 11 years old and she’s been skating since she was three. Right now she’s leading in her pre-novice ladies division. She won the provincials when she came to Prince George in November and now here she is in the Canada Winter Games.”
Already, the pre-teen figure skater has racked up lots of awards for her on ice performances and competitions.
“She has won lots of trophies and medals for her skating. Her heart and soul is in skating. Everything she does, she does well. And she’s so very determined, she practises her skating all year round.”
For his part, besides his art, Everson performs traditional songs and ceremonial dances at potlatches.
He led his audience Wednesday in a drum and song session and also explained how he feels driven in his work to uphold the traditions of both the K’omoks and Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations ancestry.
Three of his images are of the sport of hockey, “because it’s so popular for Canadians,” says Everson.
In one image, the background ram represents the hitting aspect of the sport, in another the wolf represents the “pass back and forth” aspect and “hunting in packs” of a team determined to make the next goal.
One of the hockey players is a woman, he said, because they are “just as valid” in the sport and “just as entertaining to watch.”
The final hockey image has a bear in it, based on Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo, which signifies the protecting of the net. The Raven, the trickster in First Nations culture, represents free-style skiers, and the thunderbird, downhill skiing.
An eagle motif is used to represent the sport of snow boarding, a swan is used to symbolize pairs figure skating, a hummingbird is for figure skaters for their ability to jump into the air and hover.
The venue, the Northern B.C.Tourism Plaza, was unveiled earlier this month, and features wood from across the province. Interactive displays showcase travel opportunities all over the region and local artists and storytellers stop by. There are also seven Great Northern B.C. Roadtrip photo booths set up to get photos of visitors with their friends and family.