An original Moon-Sun Transformation Mask, created by Kwakwaka’Wakw First Nations Master Carver, Jimmy Joseph, now proudly watches over the first floor boardroom of the BC Cancer Foundation’s Vancouver office.
Foundation staff had the opportunity to meet Jimmy at an event held in honour of the Mask’s installation. Here, he shared how his grandfather taught him to carve, that the art ultimately saved him, and how through carving he tells a story that connects him to his ancestors.
“I especially love creating large pieces, such as Moon and Sun Masks, which allow me to express my vision and show the detail of my work. This is truly a labor of love and respect for my First Nations heritage.”
The Mask combines the traditional First Nation’s elements of the Sun and the Moon. Jimmy shares that the chosen colors and characters convey a sense of how we are all connected to our world, and as the seasons change, and day turns to night, so do we as we journey through life. The primary First Nations symbolism and meaning conveyed in the Mask is as follows:
The Sun – Energy, Truth, Masculinity
The Moon – Transformation, Protection, Femininity
Hawk – Guardian and Protector
Eagle – Peace, Honour, Friendship, Leadership
Salmon – Consistency, Continuity, Reliability, Sustenance
Man – Striving to be One with Nature and Creation
The Mask — a gift from the McCarthy family, whose continued and generous support of the Foundation spans four generations — is rich and detailed in meaning, its power paralleling that of BC Cancer and the Foundation.
“This Mask is about leadership, hope and transformation,” says Jimmy. “There is powerful symbolism throughout and I believe this reflects very favorably on the good work that BC Cancer and the Foundation does. They are transformational in what they do and they offer hope and goodwill to all.”
To Bill McCarthy, the Mask reflects the Foundation’s Beyond Belief campaign, and the impact it will have on all British Columbians. “The foundation’s work is about transformation. It’s an organization driven to transform cancer research care so that the very best reaches as many people as possible. Jimmy Joseph’s extraordinary work is a reflection of that mission.”
The Foundation is honored to display this piece of art and we’re grateful to Jimmy for sharing this gift with us. We hope that all who have the opportunity to see the Mask – staff, donors and visitors alike – feel a strong sense of connection and belief in the transformative power of community.