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Ławitʼsis (Tlowitsis) carver Allen D. Speck has gifted Co-op Radio with one of his masks in order to help the station raise funds for continued programming honouring First Nations perspectives. We are very glad and grateful for this gift from carver Allen Speck and his family.
The 31-year-old Speck has been carving since he was nine years old and drawing since the age of three. He estimates he has carved thousands of masks. His great-great-grandfather Arthur Shaughnessy was one of the head master carvers on the coast who went from village to village helping to build big houses.
Asked about his interest in carving, Speck explained, "I was pretty much compelled to it after I went to my first potlatch. It was the environment I grew up in."
This environment is also the root of his generosity: "I grew up in a system in my own house where giving was the way to be and then moving over from Port MacNeil to Alert Bay when I was a kid and actually being able to sit there in a Big House and gain a little more understanding that that’s exactly the way of everybody here was. When I do stuff today and carve in tribute so I can give it away, give a little bit of history to somebody who would like it, or has none, or has the interest in it. I believe that the art work isn’t just for First Nations people, but for everybody ..."
Speck explained on air on "Sne'Waylh" December 22 why many years ago he carved the warrior mask he has gifted to Co-op Radio to auction. "It represents the warrior and the warriors that come out of Turner Island are fierce: the wide eyes and the open mouth represent his war cries, and the one thing that the Ławitʼsis warriors were good for was putting the fear of God in people just through sound."
"I carved that mask in honour of all the Turner Island warriors, because I went to the BC Archives online and come across some old pictures of some of the Turner Island Hamatsa and they were HUGE. They were actually warriors and their hands were bigger than my face and they were standing beside their chief and they must have stood 7 and a half almost 8 feet tall. … From the day that I seen that, I always thought Turner Island warriors were something I wanted to be."
This fierce and beautiful Ławitʼsis warrior mask is being auctioned for Vancouver Co-op Radio CFRO by email from now until Feb. 7 or until bids reach $3,000 for the mask. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the Subject Line "Mask Auction Fundraiser" with your bid. Each time a bid is made, you will have a chance to bid higher.
If you are interested in the auction, but do not want to bid (or are unsure if you want to), please send an email with the same subject line. Your email will be added to a list (sent out with blind cc's that no one else reading can see) and you will be notified each time there is a new bid.
For more information, contact Director of Member Services Pamela Bentley at 604-684-8494 ext. 230.