Carving Shed Controversy

The following was sent to me by Henry Green via e-mail, and he asked that I post it online.

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Also, please keep the conversation civil. Moderators, please move any posts that are inappropriate.

Update Concerning Meeting With Carvers

Tonight was devastating culturally and personally. To have a representative who works on behalf of the museum, who promotes and supposedly provides, the public with a forum for diversity and cultural representation for the community of Prince Rupert act in the way I saw tonight was a total shock, ethically and morally. I am not used to see respected artists and elders treated in the way that I saw tonight, I was banned from a board meeting that it was my right as a member of th emuseum to attend.

The meeting took place at 7PM, April 2, 2009 at the Museum of Northern BC. I arrived with my spouse Henry Green and a Haida elder who was there as a witness, hoping that we could finally meet with the museum about the issues surrounding the carving shed and begin the process of reconciliation.

However, Wes Baker, the chair of the museum board was waiting outside when we arrived. He told me and the Haida elder that we were not allowed to attend this important and culturally sensitive meeting. When we enquired as to why we were banned, he stated that we are not following their protocol and were not on their agenda. 

He was waving his hand in the air and making very personal comments to my spouse when I intervened and stated, “Don’t point your finger at him and talk disrespectfully to him in that way. You are supposed to be a professional, so conduct yourself accordingly.” He was clearly escalating the situation and seemed to be totally lacking in personal communication skills,

Accordingly, I told Wes Baker that we will be contacting our lawyers and that the disrespect not only to me but to a Haida elder whom we had requested to be with us to witness this meeting is not only rude, but clearly a violation of our rights as citizens of this community, and my rights as a member of the museum.

Last week, a meeting was supposed to take place on Thursday, March,26, 2009. I called Wes Baker on the night before, and he stated that someone was sick, so the meeting was postponed until week. I asked Wes when he was going to notify us of the cancellation, and suggested that he needed to be more professional and accountable. He replied that the board hadn’t had any communication from Henry, to which I replied that I was the one who typed and printed his letter for a request to meet with the board, and that I know that he had it sent by registered mail. We had been especially careful to follow the board’s protocol, because we wanted elders and myself to be present as witnesses. 

On a personal note: 

In order for a community to grow and prosper, it needs the gifts of everyone who is a part of it. Each individual has a gift, and, when a community does not prosper and progress, it is because these gifts are not respected. I know and see what gifts my spouse Henry Green and my daughters have, and they are not to be denied their proper place. 

For instance, my daughter Sylvia Hill is the youngest apprentice to Henry Green, and she is learning everything from bending bracelets to transferring designs. She has told Henry that her dream is to be carving a totem pole when she is twenty. I believe in the talents of my family, and I want to ensure that, when my daughter is twenty there will be a place for her to realize her dreams. I know for a fact that with a teacher such as Henry Green and a role model like Henry’s daughter and apprentice Morgan Green to inspire her that she will realize her dream – maybe even before she is twenty. 

It is in support of such dreams that we are rallying for support from all individuals and we are now requesting a public meeting into these long unresolved issues. The public needs to be made aware of all that is happening. The museum is supposed to promote culture, not suppress it, but for all their talk about the Tsimshian, the Haisla, and the Haida on their website, what are they really doing to promote these cultures? Does the museum really promote our cultures or does it continue to dictate to them and condescend to them?

All concerned citizens, please express your concerns to the museum. What we have seen is not only disrespect to the Haida Nation and the elder who represented it, but also disrespect to a great man who is history in the making. But instead of acknowledging what great talent he has, it will not even treat him with common courtesy. 

Moreover, the museum’s representatives continue to make the issues personal by attacking me. Yet who is better able to promote Henry Green than me? I know who he is and what he is about, I know his passions in his art, and his formlines. He is a man that deserves great respect, and it is disheartening when a place that is supposed to promote culture does such things to you. 

This would have never have happened on Haida Gwaii. Any signs of disrespect on Haida Gwaii would not be tolerated. Why the ban? I am human and I stand proud. I know great talent when I see it (and talent does run in my family), and to see it not given its due is not only devastating but very disheartening. 

Prince Rupert has a carving shed, and carving sheds are for carvers. Why do they not see that and work with us? Am I threat to them? I firmly believe that we are all in the same canoe, so we need to work together and start a process of finding a solution that will work for everyone.

But the museum has failed time and time again to recognize our need to work together or do anything to resolve the situation. If they really want an end to these matters, then they should set a good example and act in a more conciliatory way. But, for now, we can only wait for the  museum’s board members to come to their senses.

Lets hear the other side of the story.
Please, Wes Baker

I’d love a coles notes version of what’s going on from a non-partisan person in the know. All the posturing and rhetoric makes it hard to know what’s really going on.

I am Henry Green’s spouse my name is Jennifer and these issues are important this article was written by me if you have any questions please ask this issue has been ongoing since January and we have been waiting for our meeting , the disrespect on behalf of the Chair is unacceptable, he states we have to follow protocol, they did not and have not up until it was to their convenience .  The meeting that we had highly anticipated never did happen we do have a right to have our elders present to hear all of these issues, the Museum must have a process in which is fair and understanding we are made not to be talked down tooo…sure lets hear WES Baker’s side and his lawyer approved opinions, does he know about BEST PRACTICES, and why is an issue now after he has been a Chair for 15 years and why is this a problem now, a ploy perhaps, why do they need this space they have the museum the Carving shed is meant for carvers, the DANCE HALL has heat, running water, and a washroom which we have no access and only used 3-4 months of the year. Why do they need our space, how much of a deficit does it burden the Museum.

Agreed. The letter from Jennifer Green reads like an ad for Henry Green, giving him God-like status, and is filled with boasts about her family in general. It isn’t as much about how the shed is needed in the community as it is about the Green family.

One thing I can say is, had the museum person acted in a couteous problem solving manner this post would not be here in all likelyhood.

We don’t know that he didn’t.

I’m not entirely sure that what Mrs. Green said was “Don’t point your finger at him and talk disrespectfully to him in that way. You are supposed to be a professional, so conduct yourself accordingly.” I’m pretty sure there was some editing and removal of expletives there… unless people actually talk like this in an argument.

Oh, I don’t know, eccentric. I remember this one time when this guy was upset at me for something I said and threatening to get violent and I said: “Forgive me, but I felt my discourse was appropriate and frankly descriptive of your character but, if necessary, I will engage in fisticuffs in defence, as imponderable as that had previously been.â€

[quote=“Max Power”]
Oh, I don’t know, eccentric. I remember this one time when this guy was upset at me for something I said and threatening to get violent and I said: “Forgive me, but I felt my discourse was appropriate and frankly descriptive of your character but, if necessary, I will engage in fisticuffs in defence, as imponderable as that had previously been.â€[/quote]

Everyone has gifts to have these gifts taken away, what do you have, Yes i speak highly of a man who deserves MUCH BETTER, than what this community has to offer, Henry Green has earned his right to be called a Master Carver, If anyone has any questions ask…these are real issues and if a carving shed does not have carvers , than what does a community have, in order for a community to flourish we all have gifts, and I know the gifts that this man has as well as my daughters Morgan Green and Sylvia Hill yes to me they do matter, when you believe in someone or something than yes, you speak up…

Can someone sum up what is actually happening?  I understand a lot of people are upset, but I don’t think I am very clear on what the actual issue is.

I spoke with Wes Baker today.  He says that there is an article in last Tuesday’s Northern View he wrote concerning the carving shed and what was going on.  I think you can find it through the Northern View link on the main page.

edit: here is a link to the letter. … 65482.html

Thanks for that link. At least that helps me grasp what the basic issues are.

Ahh, poor Jesus. Is that one of your fantasies, where you actually got in a punch in a fight? :smiley:

Okay, I don’t truly understand the problem here.  I had visited the carving shed on a couple of occasions to see the work of a friends’ nephew there and did enjoy the experience.  I can see though that they need to go ahead with these very necessary reno’s and if Mr. Green was given alternate options for a new space then again, problem?  The carving shed will be a great place for the tourists and locals alike to watch the carvers in action and will be even more of a drawing card with a fresh “coat of paint” shall we say…I agree with Max Power that it seems to be more about the Green family and how they feel they have somehow been wronged than the desire for the carving shed in our community.   At least Wes Baker has given us both sides of the issue in his letter…Thanks for that…

It’s owned by the museum, and they have a right to operate it how they see fit. If the native art community wants a place where they can further their art AND have true control, then they need to acquire a place of their own.

Change isn’t always accepted, but it is inevitable.

I’m 30 years old I dont fight anymore.

Hmph. I had you pegged at 14.

I believe that someone in the museum is not telling the truth, this has been a very good place to have the carvers and artists do their thing. This thing has been building up for some time now and the shed has always put out some great work.