The Ts'msyen Nation has occupied our homelands on the Northwest Coast of North America since time immemorial. We have never ceded our traditional territories by treaty, war, or any other means. We are inherently connected to our homelands, ancestors, and traditional cultural ways. Our artwork records, describes, and honors our history as Ts'msyen people in our territories and has evolved over tens of thousands of years. There are seven modern villages within our Nations and our people live both on and off-reserve in both rural and urban settings in both Canada and the U.S. Our Nation is comprised of Tribes, Houses, and Clans and we are a matrilineal people who receive all of our rights and responsibilities through our Mother. Please visit the following websites for more information:
Ts'msyen educational resources from SD52 (be sure to read Persistence & Change)
Phil Gray is from the Ts'msyen and Cree First Nations of Lax Kw’Alaams, BC and Fort Chipewyan, Alberta. Phil is committed to helping to revitalize and make known the artwork of Ts'msyen people. He is most proud of the work that records the stories and history of the Ts'msyen people and his art that adorns traditional regalia, organizational logos, and other community centered work that allows him to give back and stay connected to the community.
Phil began learning about Northwest Coast design in 1998 from various artists, by reading many books, visiting museums, attending cultural events, and talking with Elders. Phil has been influenced by many artists including Gerry Sheena who taught him carving skills and he learned Ts'msyen design from David A. Boxley. He also picked up tips from other artists including Lyle Campbell, Reg Davidson, Robert Davidson, Henry Green, David R. Boxley, Marcel Russ, Jay Simeon, Rick Adkins and Klatle-bhi.
Phil’s work can be found in private collections around the world and in various books, galleries and museums. He enjoys public art projects as they provide the greatest opportunity for the public to view Ts'msyen art as a way to remind people that the Ts'msyen Nation is here to stay. He has been featured in the book Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast, at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art's Continuum: Vision and Creativity on the Northwest Coast exhibit, and in various interviews when his helmet design gained recognition at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
In 2014, Phil was awarded the BC Creative Achievement Award for First Nations art - see a video of him here.
In 2012, Phil received the Hnatshyn Foundation's Charles Pachter Prize for Emerging Artists
Phil has been features in the following exhibitions:
Co-exhibition with Kevin Cranmer at Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery in Vancouver, BC
Challenging Traditions at McMichael Canadian Art Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario
Continuum: Vision and Creativity on the Northwest Coast at the Bill Reid Art Gallery in Vancouver, BC