The community is remembering Curtis Wilson.

The local artist and Wei Wai Kum First Nation band councillor died of a heart attack last weekend.

Mulidzas is the traditional name handed to Wilson during a family Potlatch held in 2001. 

He was born and raised in Campbell River and his family comes from the four corners of the Kwakwaka’wakw territory. 

Wilson’s paternal grandparents come from Axwamees (Wakeman Sound), and Wei Wai Kai (Cape Mudge); his maternal grandparents come from Ba’as (Blunden Harbour), and Wei Wai Kum (Campbell River).

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in First Nations Studies from Malaspina University/College in 2002 and was a part of the Laichwiltach Culture Group for many years.

His bio notes that he was very adamant about learning his culture and heritage and taught the younger generations about the culture, songs and dances.

Wilson was sketching and drawing in his teens, and started learning how to carve at the age of 18. 

Campbell River Arts Council executive director, Ken Blackburn, said Wilson was an amazing artist who was very generous to the local arts community with his time and work.

“He’s going to be really sadly missed,” Blackburn said.

Blackburn called Wilson “a spectacular talent.”

“He could work very much in traditional First Nations designs but he also could work in very contemporary First Nations designs as well. His drawings, his prints, his basic design work was impeccable but he also drummed and sang, and danced and he was just an all-around first-class artist.”

Wilson worked to promote and preserve his culture and move it forward for the next generation, Blackburn noted: “Part of that work was reaching out to the community and educating the community in the meaning and power of First Nations art.”

Wilson’s artistic influence is far-reaching. 

He designed the Canadian Native Flag in 2017 and most recently designed the new SD72 logo, featuring a salmon encircling a salmon egg.

The many different types of salmon represent the diversity of School District 72’s schools.

Wilson also designed the logo for last year’s reconciliation circle that the arts council did at the museum last year.

Blackburn has known Wilson for well over a decade and said he “was a pleasant guy to work with and very approachable and extremely generous.”

City Council members including Mayor Andy Adams spoke about Wilson’s legacy during last night’s regular council meeting.

We have reached out to the Wei Wai Kum First Nation for their thoughts.