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UNBC unveils Nenachalhuya – The Cedar Plank Project

A First Nations art project was unveiled at the University of Northern BC on Friday. It features 32 cedar planks carved by Cree/Dakelh artist Clayton Gauthier and graces the wall in The Gathering Place.
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Renowned Cree/Dakelh artist Clayton Gauthier created 32 carved cedar planks for the Nenachalhuya Project on display in the Gathering Place at UNBC.

It’s been two years in the making and began with 32 blank cedar planks gracing the walls of The Gathering Place (Lhuhuhwhezdel) at the University of Northern BC and culminating with those planks carved by renowned Cree/Dakelh artist Clayton Gauthier.

The planks represent 32 First Nations from across Northern BC to showcase a few of the many diverse communities the university serves.

Each plank’s image was the official First Nations logo submitted by a community in Northern BC.

The unveiling took place during a celebration open house of the First Nations Centre at UNBC on Friday.

The project is called Nenachalhuya, which is a Dakelh word meaning ‘you have done us great honour’ or ‘we are thankful for what you have done.’

Gauthier said that he hopes when the public sees the planks that they are more mindful of how diverse the Nations truly are.

“As things started flowing the stories started to come,” Gauthier said about the project. “It’s powerful knowing our connection with the many Nations and the land. We did our best to get the stories behind each image... learning all that was a powerful gift.”

Gauthier was honoured, he said, to be part of the project.

“Ever since I was a young boy art was my calling, my thing, my medicine, something I need in my life every day,” Gauthier said. “When this project came to light I was like ‘What? Me? Really?’ There was a lot of powerful feelings and then I thought OK this is huge, looking at the big picture. As I started I kept focused on each piece at a time and each piece spoke to me in its own way.”

Gauthier thanked everyone who collaborated on the project.

During the unveiling highlights included the university’s Resident Elder Marcel Gagnon who said a few words of welcome and then led a performance by the Lheidli T’enneh Men’s Drum Group.