Drawing Item Number: Nb3.1415 from the MOA: University of British Columbia


Felt pen and painted (?) image on a horizontal rectangular white paper covered with a plastic or Mylar sheet and mounted on an introductory, vertically rectangular, yellow cardboard, exhibit panel. Black 'Letraset' type lettering on cardboard below picture reads 'ART WORK DONE BY PACIFIC COAST / INDIAN CHILDREN AGES 8 -14, LIVING AT / ALERT BAY / RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL'. Image is of a multicoloured left facing, profile whale-bird and whale head with a bird head behind and three right facing bird heads forming the tail and hind limb or fin. Bird-like head at the front limb or fin and a head at the dorsal fin on the top. Blue shading around the image. Pencil signature at the bottom left reads 'Billy Nelson'. Signature of John Gomes is crossed out on the back.

Cultural Context

student art


From a collection of Northwest Coast inspired artwork produced by First Nations children at the Alert Bay Residential School during the 1968 to 1969 school year. The works were also part of an exhibition of student drawings, displayed at the Charles Sanderson Library in Toronto during 1970. They were also featured briefly by one of the local television stations. Residential schools were operated by religious organizations and followed the regular provincial curriculum. The Alert Bay Residential School was operated by the Anglican Church of Canada. According to the Van Drielens, art was discouraged at the School because 'they couldn't make a living at it'.