Remembering TEMOSEṈŦET (Dr. Charles Elliott)

Feb 16, 2023 | 42-4, Blog, Governance, Indigenous, Legislature, Statement, Video | 1 comment

In Members’ Statements, I offered a few words to mark the passing of my uncle TEMOSEṈŦET, Dr. Charles Elliott.


Today I stand to recognize and honour my uncle, TEMOSEṈŦET, Dr. Charles Elliot. Charles was the preeminent Coast Salish artist.

When Charles started to walk his path of artistry 50 years ago, Coast Salish art was overlooked. At that time, the museum curators had hidden our culture into boxes and drawers. Charles helped bring it from those dark rooms and into the light. He studied in private collections, and he spent hours searching through the boxes and shelves. The imagery that Charles breathed life into through his craft was inspired by the incredible industrious innovation of his, of our, ancestors.

His ambassadors are everywhere: the Victoria Airport, the University of Victoria and the Mary Winspear Centre. Some of his best-known works include the design on the gold medal and his contribution to the Queen’s Baton for the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria and a talking stick commissioned by the Duwamish Tribe and presented to Nelson Mandela during his visit to Seattle in 1999. He was proud of that talking stick because Nelson Mandela was a freedom fighter as was Charles.

His work rose out of the radical activism of the American Indian Movement. Much of the political progress that Indigenous people have achieved is rooted in a powerful generation of civil rights warriors. Well, Rebel Chuck was one of those warriors.

Last year, Charles’ work, life work, was recognized with an honorary degree of fine arts from the University of Victoria. He had a wonderful relationship with the faculty and students at the university. I raise my hands to UVic and to the hundreds of people who paid tribute to Charles and brought good feelings to my family.

TEMOSEṈŦET passed away on January 29, and we will miss the powerful contribution he made to his family, his community and to W̱SÁNEĆ storytelling.


1 Comment

  1. Gary McCartie

    Beautiful, Adam! So well spoken – and heartfelt!
    Can feel it deeply – just reading this! Hearing it in person must have been powerful!

Share This

Share this post with your friends!