It’s Belmont Secondary student AJ Boersen was one of four finalists selected to design and create this Nuu Chah Nulth longhouse front, as part of the 10th annual One Wave Gathering. Boersen’s longhouse will be on display on the parliament lawns until Sunday. (Contributed photo)

Belmont student inspiring First Nations youth with art

AJ Boersen’s longhouse will be on display at the legislature lawns

When AJ Boersen puts a pen to paper, it’s hard to get him to stop.

The 16-year-old spends hours drawing traditional First Nations art from his Nuu Chah Nulth heritage. Now, Boersen will get the chance to show off his talent to people around Greater Victoria.

Boersen is one of four finalists from different nations, who were selected by the Pacific Peoples’ Partnership, to design a longhouse front, which will be displayed on the lawns of the legislature, as part of the 10th annual One Wave Gathering Festival this weekend.

RELATED: One Wave Gathering returns to Victoria for its 10th year

“I think it will look good with the other three longhouses,” said Boersen of his creation.

The Grade 11 Belmont Secondary student’s design, which mixes traditional and contemporary art, is of two whales on a 15 by 25 feet longhouse. The whales, which represent family, are the focus of the piece. There is also a whaler with a traditional Nuu Chah Nulth hat and a star.

“It’s just recognition for aboriginal people, to show that aboriginal people have a say in art,” said Boersen, who drew inspiration for the piece from comic book artist, David Aja. “Most of all, I hope to inspire younger generations to do art and I hope people are interested in the story behind the art, so I can tell the story of the art style of Nuu Chah Nulth.”

Boersen’s passion for art began a few years ago. He initially started drawing cars and then quickly moved on to people. Last year, he won first place at a First Nations youth art competition with the Sooke School District for his series of drawings of aboriginal people, which were featured at the Coast Collective Art Centre.

While he had been creating art for some time, it wasn’t until Boersen’s social worker told him about the longhouse competition that he decided to submit a design.

Several hours and a number of designs later, Boersen handed in his piece in early August, and a few weeks later he got the call saying he’d been selected as a finalist. Over the weeks, Boersen worked with First Nations artist Hjalmer Wenstob, who introduced him to the history and traditions of the Nuu Chah Nulth people, which has given Boersen inspiration for even more pieces of art.

He is currently working on an aboriginal superhero comic book series.

The longhouses will be on display until Sunday, Sept. 17. Boersen hopes he can find a permanent home for the longhouse at his high school in the future.

kendra.wong@goldstream gazette.com

Just Posted

Sooke’s under-14 girls squad ready for playoff tests

Sooke team has perfect record so far

Sooke’s Santa Run joined with Otter Point to fill the food bank

Dozens of volunteers took to the streets to gather food and cash donations

Saanich swimmer has ribs removed, posts them on social media

Jill Yoneda makes light of rare surgery for ‘slipping rib syndrome’

Transplant caregiver starts website for financial, mental health support

Beth Campbell-Duke started Transplant Rouges after her husband’s double lung transplant

Victoria ranked as one of B.C.’s worst cities to work in

High living costs and low average incomes drop Victoria from the top 10

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Federal government plans examination of coerced sterilization

The Liberals have been pressed for a rapid response to recent reports on the sterilizations

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

Huitema was captain of Canada’s fourth-place team at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup

Canada not slowing emissions from oil and gas: environmental groups

New report released at the United Nations climate talks in Poland

Liberal Party moves Trudeau fundraiser from military base

The fundraiser is scheduled for Dec. 19, with tickets costing up to $400

Pipeline protesters arrested at B.C. university

Three protesters were arrested after TRU property allegedly vandalized with red paint

Goodale to ‘examine’ transfer of Rafferty to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Minister appoints former CIRB chair to resolve Canada Post labour dispute

Postal workers engaged in weeks of rotating walkouts

Most Read