Nuu-chah-nulth language champion Tim Masso holds his Rainy Coast Arts Award. (Jessie Masso photo)

Nuu-chah-nulth language champion Tim Masso holds his Rainy Coast Arts Award. (Jessie Masso photo)

Vancouver Island brothers receive 2020 Rainy Coast Arts Award

Tla-o-qui-aht’s Masso and Wenstob share Pacific Rim Arts Society honour

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers Timothy Masso and Hjalmer Wenstob are co-recipients of the 2020 Pacific Rim Arts Society’s Rainy Coast Arts Award.

Their names are forever connected to a prestigious list of west coast artists, including: Christine Lowther (inaugural Rainy Coast recipient in 2014), Joe Martin (2015), Mark Hobson (2016), Signy Cohen (2017), Joanna Streetly (2018), and Vi Mundy and Jacqueline Chamberland (2019 co-recipients).

“To win the [Rainy Award] is not just an acknowledgement by a small organization on the west coast, but it really speaks to the impact of your endeavour and how much it really is valued by the community. It’s not just a sports days ribbon, I think it really is an acknowledgement of significance,” said past PRAS president Mark Penney during the Nov. 8 AGM via Zoom Video.

For Masso, Penney said he has distinguished himself from a very young age as a champion of Nuu-chah-nulth language throughout the region, Canada and beyond.

“So many people have helped me on my journey for learning my language. There are so many thank yous. I have and I don’t think I have the time to do it. One thank you I want to put out there is elder Richard Mundy. He has helped me so much,” said Masso during the AGM.

Masso is currently in his third year studying Language Revitalization at the University of Victoria as well as finishing his Grade 12 courses online. He has been advocating for language since he was nine years old. Most recently, he helped the Ucluelet Co-op install Nuu-chah-nulth language signage as part of the major renovations project.

“Now we have language at the Co-op and there are so many people stepping up to bring language back into the community and it’s so wonderful to see just the fact the language is coming back,” Masso told the Westerly.

READ: Young Ucluelet local earns Indigenous Language Revitalization Diploma

After learning the Nuu-chah-nulth alphabet and hearing all the different sounds, Masso said he can actually hear the language in the waves and the land that surrounds him.

“The world that we live in is a living world of language and culture. I think learning language not only connects you to the culture, but it also connects you to the land,” he said.

Masso encourages everyone to continue speaking little words like Kleco (thanks) or Cuu (goodbye) in day-to-day conversations.

“Keep saying those. That’s the first big step to learning language. Don’t be afraid of judgment or offending anyone if you say it wrong. When I was first learning language I was pronouncing everything wrong. That’s just one step of learning,” Masso said.

Both Masso and Wenstob agree how wonderful it is to share the Rainy Coast award. They share a deep bond or “singular synergy” as PRAS executive director Sue Payne says.

About eight years ago, Wenstob underwent a brain operation. Masso stepped up to help him navigate the world post-surgery and that included taking notes for him as he studied arts the University of Victoria. When my brother got really depressed, recalls Masso, Elders at the First Peoples House would brush him down with cedar bows and do a prayer in Coast Salish.

“I could see the strength that it gave him. Once Hjalmer started feeling better, I wanted to learn my language from that. That’s what started by quest for language learning,” said Masso.

Wenstob, who owns Cedar House Gallery in Ucluelet, said he is inspired by his younger brother and the work that he does.

“The work that [Masso] does is about being humble and about being present and creating space. It’s a humbling and honouring feeling right now,” Wenstob said during the Nov. 8 virtual AGM.

“I look forward to being able to celebrate together when the time is right and we can come together in a safe way. I feel like one of the richest men in the world when I think back to all the people that have supported me along my journey,” Wenstob continued. He went on to acknowledge artist Carly Butler and the Nocture 2020 exhibit they worked on together for the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Penney eloquently describes Wenstob’s art.

“He tends to take things from a traditional perspective and smash them directly to a contemporary outlook. His work is very subtle and it’s nuanced, but it’s incredibly potent at its core,” Penney said.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ: Tla-o-qui-aht artist finds ‘wonderful moments’ in isolation

READ: Chris Lowther becomes Tofino’s second Poet Laureate

Arts and cultureIndigenous

Just Posted

It takes much more than having talent as a singer or musician to pull off a live performance people will remember, says Sooke resident Jason Parsons. (Pixabay.com)
Vancouver Islander writes the book on live performances

Jason Parsons’ new book unlocks the keys to establishing a presence on stage

VIU’s ‘Portal’ magazine is turning 30 years old. (Image courtesy Chantelle Calitz)
Vancouver Island University’s literary magazine ‘Portal’ celebrates 30 years

Virtual launch featuring contributor readings took place April 30

Nanaimo author Haley Healey recently launched her second book, ‘Flourishing and Free: More Stories of Trailblazing Women of Vancouver Island.’ (Photo courtesy Kristin Wenberg)
Nanaimo author pens second book on ‘trailblazing’ Vancouver Island women

Haley Healey’s ‘Flourishing and Free’ follows her 2020 debut ‘On Their Own Terms’

Saanich author Hannalora Leavitt hopes her new book, This Disability Experience, helps to dispel the ‘otherness’ that often surrounds people with disabilities. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Vancouver Island author demystifying disability and dismantling otherness

Hannalora Leavitt, who lives with a visual impairment, wants to change how people look at disability

The organizers of the annual 39 days of July festival hope to return to live shows in Charles Hoey Park this year, like in this photo taken in 2019, but audiences at the show may be limited to 50 people due to health protocols. (File photo)
39 Days of July hoping to stage outdoor events in Duncan this summer

Annual music festival will run from June 25 to Aug. 2 this year

Members of A Cappella Plus rehearse for a ’60s-themed concert in 2019. This year the group is celebrating its 40th anniversary. (Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo’s A Cappella Plus chorus marks 40 years with short documentary

Film covers group’s history, features performance and behind-the-scenes video

Musqueam and Qualicum First Nations artist, Mathew Andreatta, next to several of his ongoing projects, including carvings and illustrations. (Submitted photo)
Island artist considers art a means to reconnect with his Indigenous identity

Andreatta thought of TOSH as a space of learning and creation

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong are presenting an online reading on May 9. (Photos courtesy Joni Marcolin/Heather Armstrong)
Nanaimo playwrights present online Mother’s Day script readings

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong to read from in-progress plays

Marianne Turley is one of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners for Honour in Culture. (Bulletin file photo)
Longtime Vancouver Island Symphony board member gets posthumous culture award

Marianne Turley receives City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Honour in Culture

Most Read