Skip to content

North Delta elementary student wins award at BC Heritage Fair

Ryan Joseph recognized for his project about his uncle, Squamish Nation artist Xwalacktun Rick Harry
Devon Gardens Elementary student Ryan Joseph was awarded the Alumni Choice Award at the 2022 BC Heritage Fair for his project about his uncle, Squamish Nation artist Xwalacktun Rick Harry. Joseph and Harry are seen here in a photo from Joseph’s heritage fair presentation.

A North Delta elementary student has received provincial accolade for his heritage project about the life and work of his uncle, renowned Squamish Nation artist Xwalacktun Rick Harry.

The theme for this year’s virtual BC Heritage Fair was “People of British Columbia,” and Ryan Joseph, a Grade 4 student at Devon Gardens Elementary, chose his uncle as the subject of this project not only because Harry is part of his family, but also a part of his heritage.

“I wanted to do an Indigenous project to learn more about my own culture and to share it with my class. I love Coast Salish art and knowing that my uncle Rick has made such impressive works was an inspiration to me,” Ryan said in a post on the Delta School District website.

Harry, who named to the Order of British Columbia in 2012, was born and raised in Squamish and educated at Emily Carr College of Art and Capilano College before embarking on a 30-year career as an internationally recognized artist and cultural ambassador, according to a bio posted on Order of British Columbia website.

He works in wood, glass and steel and is best known for his remarkable wood carvings, which can be seen in high-profile locations across the Lower Mainland.

“These are among more than 80 pieces he has carved for schools and other institutions throughout B.C. and around the world,” the bio reads, before going on to state that Harry was “the first Aboriginal artist chosen to receive a licence to produce 2010 Olympics-related designs.”

“With influence extending well beyond B.C.’s borders, Mr. Harry has been commissioned by galleries in New York and New Hampshire to produce carvings. He has been featured on high-profile television programs, including Sesame Street, and has — for a decade — conducted totem carving classes in Scotland, helping people there preserve their own heritage.”

In preparing his Heritage Fair project, Ryan researched his uncle on the internet and interviewed him at his workshop in West Vancouver.

“That was my favourite part because he showed me small totems that were his draft models and how he would use them to create large totem poles,” Ryan said.

In recognition of his excellent work, the BC Heritage Fairs Alumni Council awarded Ryan the Alumni Choice Award, which comes with a one-year subscription to Kayak: Canada’s History Magazine for Kids.

“I feel great about winning this award and it makes me so happy to share my Squamish Nation culture with everyone!” Ryan said. “Thank you to the Delta Heritage Society for this opportunity and thank you to Mme Oliveira for encouraging me along the way.”

“I am so proud of Ryan,” Karen Oliveira, Ryan’s teacher at Devon Gardens, said in a post on the school district’s website. “His presentation about his uncle is outstanding in terms of the depth and quality of his research. He is extremely deserving of this award.”

See the presentation slides for Ryan’s project at, and watch his video below.

SEE ALSO: Grad’s car raffle win caps one ‘special’ night for Surrey’s Kwantlen Park Secondary

SEE ALSO: Delta-based seniors agility program granted $5,000

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Be Among The First To Know

Create a free account today, and start receiving free newsletters.

Sign Up with google Sign Up with facebook

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reset your password

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A link has been emailed to you - check your inbox.

Don't have an account? Click here to sign up

James Smith

About the Author: James Smith

James Smith is the founding editor of the North Delta Reporter.
Read more