Carving a Niche in Hagwilget Village (AUDIO)
By Amanda Follett Hosgood
Under a timber-frame structure overlooking Hagwilget Canyon in Hazelton, British Columbia, master carver Ron Austin works alongside fellow community members Robert Austin, Jason Austin and Francis Alex. The men kneel next to a mammoth cedar log, which lays prone on a bed of woodchips, patiently and meticulously turning the wood’s smooth surface into an intricately carved totem pole.
Austin’s artistic training began just down the road, at the Kitanmax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art, and continued at Vancouver’s Fraser Valley College. Since returning to the northwest, he has carved pieces for Smithers Secondary School, Northwest Community College and Smithers’ Bovill Square. On a sunny, late-summer day, Culturally Modified editor Amanda Follett Hosgood caught up with the master carver as he was hard at work on a series of poles in Hagwilget.
Amanda Follett Hosgood was born and raised in Ontario. She graduated from Carleton University’s journalism program in 1997 and headed west to Canmore, Alberta where she worked as reporter and assistant editor at the Canmore Leader and Banff Crag & Canyon. In 2006, she moved farther north and west to Smithers, B.C., completing a Master of Arts in Communication Specializing in International and Intercultural Communication through Royal Roads University in Victoria, B.C in 2009. She lives with her family on Wet'suwet'en territory.