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Meet the B.C. artist behind UNBC’s Indigenous athletics logo — a first for Canada

Click to play video: 'B.C. Indigenous Artist makes history.' B.C. Indigenous Artist makes history.
Trevor Angus and the University of Northern B.C. partner up to create the first-ever University or College sports logo solely designed by an Indigenous artist. Global BC’s Jay Janower introduces us to Trevor Angus – Oct 30, 2021

By now, you may have seen the University of Northern British Columbia‘s striking new alternate jersey for its Timberwolf athletic teams.

The green and gold uniforms feature a bold design that reimagines the university’s existing Timberwolf logo from an Indigenous perspective. It’s also the first time such a logo at any Canadian post-secondary athletic program has been completely designed by an Indigenous artist.

Read more: UNBC athletics program unveils new Indigenous logo jerseys

“When I actually saw it was when I found out it was the first Canadian university or college to do such a thing, I didn’t even know that until it was released,” artist Trevor Angus told Global News.

“When I saw the actual kids walking out onto the field wearing the jerseys, that’s when it actually hit me.”

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Angus, who hails from Hazelton and is a member of the Gitxsan Nation, has been at his craft for more than four decades, first putting pencil to paper at the urging of a Grade 4 teacher.

Click to play video: 'UNBC Timberwolves make history with first Indigenous artist-inspired team logo.' UNBC Timberwolves make history with first Indigenous artist-inspired team logo.
UNBC Timberwolves make history with first Indigenous artist-inspired team logo – Oct 23, 2021

Since then, his work has been featured in galleries across B.C. and Canada and has been sought out by collectors globally. He’s also a successful jewelry maker.

This project might just be his biggest yet — and was more than four years in the making.

Angus said after the university approached him, it took a year to conceptualize — followed by a holdup while the university switched jersey manufacturers, only to be delayed again by the arrival of COVID-19.

Read more: Should B.C. change its flag? Indigenous artist aims for debate with new design

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But the result was worth it — the culmination of a goal he had years ago as a UNBC student himself.

“We joked about it, because when I went to school there I watched the basketball games live, and I told one of my friends at the time, ‘I wish I could make that my own,’ so when it came time to do it, it was really awesome,” he said.

Angus said he was honoured at the chance to design the new jerseys, which he said come with both a personal connection and a connection to the north.

Along with his wolf design, they also feature syllabics that translate to “En Cha Huna,” UNBC’s motto from Dakelh (Carrier) Elders interpreted as “respecting all forms of life.”

“I thought it was a really good way to respect the territory that the university sits on … it’s the University of Northern B.C. and that’s where I’m from and I was also a student there, so it was such a good fit,” he said.

“I think it symbolizes the relationship between Aboriginal Peoples and the University, which is a really big relationship for sure. I also had to bring up the fact that my dad and his clan that he belongs to is the wolf clan back home … Wolves are a pack animal, they work as a team to do what needs to be done, and I always thought that was a really good fit.”

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Click to play video: 'First Nations artist creates COVID-19 mask' First Nations artist creates COVID-19 mask
First Nations artist creates COVID-19 mask – Jan 21, 2021

Along with furthering the connection between the university and Indigenous Peoples in B.C., Angus hopes his artwork can also help further the conversation about reconciliation in Canada.

It’s a conversation that must be built on common recognition of humanity — and art can be one of many jumping-off points, according to Angus.

“My art really gets people to look at what I do and they start to learn about where I come from and my history, and that’s part of my sharing — and sharing will always be important, whether it’s the good things or the bad things. We need to be aware of what people went through,” he said.

“It’s bringing the people together already. The amount of media attention this has brought up, I’ve had so many people that are non-Aboriginal that have come and said this has really opened their eyes to starting to look at different ways of really admiring and respecting the native culture.”

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While Angus has found no shortage of success in his career as an artist, the overwhelming reception to the UNBC design could yet open a whole new chapter for his work.

He said he’s already had discussions with two minor hockey teams, including his hometown Hazelton Wolverines, about doing designs.

As a hockey fan himself, he says he’d be thrilled at the chance to see his work on the biggest canvas in B.C. sport.

“I’ve thought a lot about Canucks logos and masks,” Angus laughed.

“I’ve had a lot of people brought up I should also do (Canucks goalie) Thatcher Demko’s helmet.”

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