Relentless by Andy Everson

Relentless by Andy Everson

Relentless Acrylic Edition
Mask Series II
Initialed & Numbered

One word that comes to mind when I think about colonization is simply: “relentless”. From the relentless numbers of people arriving on our shores to seek out a new life to the relentless atrocities that were inflicted upon my ancestors in the pursuit of land and wealth. Nascent governments enacted legislation to keep us contained to reserves and to deny us any rights as citizens. They even made it impossible for us to obtain legal counsel to fight them in their own court system. Denied justice, they then took our children away from our communities in an attempt to destroy the very identity handed down to us by our ancestors.

My grandfather was one such child ripped out of his community. As a young boy, he was sent from K’omoks up to the St Michael’s Indian Residential School in Alert Bay. Here, he leaned just how relentless the residential school system could be. Beaten for speaking his languages—both Ayajuthem and Kwak̓wala—he later returned home hurt. While he didn’t carry physical scars from this, his wounds were deep rooted and emotional. Later in life, he would lament that he couldn’t remember most of the old sacred legends he used to hear growing up.

Meeting my grandmother in the late 1920s, Andy Frank’s passion for our cultural ways was rekindled. Like Andy, Margaret came from a noble family and there were expectations that Andy had to meet. He made a pact with his father-in-law, Charlie Wilson, to uphold our culture and to build a traditional bighouse here in the Comox Valley. He built it not only so that we could continue to practice our culture, but also in which to invite non-Indigenous people in order to forge long-lasting cultural understanding. Some people didn’t see just how important these community-building bridges were. When told that he should just give up the old ways, Andy would not relent.

You see, relentless isn’t always a bad word…. My grandfather’s interest in our culture was relentless. My grandfather’s interest in sharing our culture was relentless. His humbleness was relentless. His vision was relentless. His love for his people was relentless. No matter what happened to him at any point in his life, my grandfather’s love was relentless…and that’s a beautiful place to be.