A 13-year-old Tsleil-Waututh Nation artist is about to have his work shown around the country and internationally after being chosen by the United Nations Association in Canada to design a logo to help celebrate World Environment Day.
Gordie Dick, the youngest child of TWN artist and North Vancouver School District Indigenous support worker Tchilaqs7Tchila Gordon Dick, was approached by the association’s president and CEO Jaime Webbe after seeing his talent emerge over the last couple of years.
“She noticed the progress of my son … He’s been doing a lot of great work, and she said that she wanted to give the opportunity to [my son] to commission his first piece,” Gordon said.
Not receiving any direction from Webbe, Gordie was able to create exactly what he wanted for the logo, which will be used to also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Environment Programme.
Coming from his “imagination”, Gordie said it was pretty easy to come up with the logo.
“For the hands, one of the hands represents Indigenous humans, and then the other side is other races,” Gordie explained. “The circle is the earth, and eagles are our ancestors – those who walked before us. And then there’s a design in the eagle’s wings which represents a water pattern – the ripple effect.”
Webbe said the logo that Gordie drew is making a huge impact, not only locally, but internationally as well.
“It's absolutely stunning. It's beautiful. It's making such an impact all across Canada, and this is not just a local event. The UN Environment Programme has added it to their suite of social media material to the regional office for North America in Washington, DC,” Webbe said.
Since launching the logo, Webbe has been fielding questions from people asking if there are posters available of Gordie’s work, and if it can be used to inspire other young Indigenous artists.
“It really has sparked so many feelings of respect, and admiration and passion … over the course of my very long career, and many different logos for many different events that I've run, I've never seen anything elicit such a strong and positive emotional response as Gordie's logo did,” Webbe said. “And I just kind of thought it's just such a great story of his accomplishments and the impact that he's made across Canada just by being who he is and doing what he loves.”
On June 3, World Environment Day, the association is holding an event in Ottawa to launch its curriculum on Indigenous conservation, which Gordie’s logo is “front and centre” of, Webbe said. Following that, it will be featured in two upcoming videos about the UN Environment Programme and will be shown to delegates in New York.
“Beyond the official events, it's the unofficial people that are reaching out saying, ‘Can I use this logo in my art class for Indigenous youth? Can I use this logo when I talk to my community?’ We're making it freely available for non-commercial purposes to anybody who really wants to use Gordie's logo as a jumping off point for discussions that they're having about Indigenous art, Indigenous conservation, Canada and the world via the environment lens,” Webbe noted. “And we will be gathering many of those stories, but I don't think we'll ever fully capture the full impact of what is just an absolutely beautiful piece of art.”
Gordon said he and Gordie are incredibly honoured to have had the platform and the chance to create the piece for the association.
“It's so meaningful to do a piece like that, because that's who we are as people -- to protect our water, our land, Mother Earth,” Gordon explained. “And it's great to do it with a piece that's, sort of, reconciliation with the world, right? The world is finally getting involved, so we're very happy and honoured and humbled to do so.”
Charlie Carey is the North Shore News' Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.