Honoring First Nations Art: Recipients of the 17th Annual Polygon Award Announced

BC Achievement Foundation proudly unveils the talented recipients of the 17th annual Polygon Award in First Nations Art. This prestigious award recognizes and celebrates committed artists who honour First Nations art traditions. In addition, we celebrate an exceptional artist who receives the Award of Distinction for Lifetime Achievement. Join us as we explore the breathtaking craftsmanship, profound dedication, and remarkable contributions of these esteemed artists.

Recognizing First Nations Artistry

Discover the significance of the prestigious Polygon Award in First Nations Art and the Award of Distinction for Lifetime Achievement.

First Nations art has a rich history and offers unique perspectives into Indigenous culture. The Polygon Award in First Nations Art celebrates artists who have dedicated themselves to preserving and advancing these art forms. This award not only recognizes their exceptional talent but also acknowledges the profound impact of their creativity within their communities.

Alongside the Polygon Award, the Award of Distinction for Lifetime Achievement acknowledges an artist who has contributed immensely to the art scene in British Columbia. This award honours the artist's long-term accomplishments and extraordinary contributions, showcasing their exceptional journey and dedication to art.

Meet the Extraordinary Recipients

Get to know the astonishing artists who were honored with the coveted Polygon Award and Award of Distinction.

One of the recipients of the Award of Distinction for Lifetime Achievement is Rick Harry, also known as Xwalacktun. With his intricate mastery of various art forms, including metalwork, jewelry, glasswork, drawing, and printmaking, Xwalacktun brings his Kwakwaka’wakw and Squamish heritage to life. His contributions also extend to public art and sculpture, with a recent installation at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre captivating visitors.

Joining the remarkable list of distinguished recipients is master carver Klatle-bhi Charles Sam. Hailing from the Kwakwaka’wakw and Squamish Nations, Sam's red cedar masks, panels, and totem poles have found homes in prominent museums such as the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City and the Burke Memorial Museum of Natural History in Seattle.

Brent Sparrow, a talented artist with Musqueam roots, is also among the honourees. Known for his thought-provoking installations, including large-scale bronze, glass, and cedar creations, Sparrow collaborates with his mother, Susan A. Point, to leave awe-inspiring art in various locations, from the Seattle Art Museum to the city of Richmond.

Shawna Kiesman, a Victoria-based artist with Nisga’a, Ts’msyen, and Haida descent, proudly explores her Indigenous heritage through a multitude of artistic mediums. Her journey has led to permanent collections at renowned institutions like the Nisga’a Museum and Coast Mountain College. The BC Achievement Foundation has also acknowledged her outstanding achievements as an emerging artist in First Nations Art.

Preserving Culture Through Art

Delve into the impact of the recipient's work in preserving and promoting Indigenous art and culture.

These exceptional artists actively engage in preserving and showcasing Indigenous art, ensuring that ancient techniques and cultural heritage continue to thrive. Xwalacktun, with his focus on public art and sculpture, creates breathtaking installations that allow the community to connect with their ancestry.

Sam's passion for traditional carving techniques shines through in his exquisite red cedar pieces, which not only embody artistic skill but also tell stories and preserve ancient traditions.

Kiesman, through her exploration of textiles, drawing, painting, and digital art, adds a contemporary flair to Indigenous art while honoring her heritage and fostering cultural preservation.

Sparrow's large-scale installations in bronze, glass, and cedar touch the hearts and souls of viewers, ensuring that Musqueam culture is captured for generations to come.

Recognition and Influence

Explore the impressive accomplishments and influence of the award recipients in the art world.

The talent and dedication of the award recipients have garnered recognition and accolades throughout their careers. Xwalacktun's achievements include a 2012 appointment to the Order of British Columbia, a 2016 First Nations Art Award, and a 2022 Honourary Doctorate from Emily Carr University.

In addition to his incredible carvings, Sam's work has been highly esteemed, having pieces exhibited in renowned institutions. Such recognition grants him a well-deserved place among esteemed artists from across the globe.

Kiesman's artwork has been acquired by permanent collections, solidifying her position as a venerated artist. Her impact reaches beyond her immediate community and contributes to the preservation of cultural objects for public appreciation.

Sparrow's installations in prominent locations and collaborations reveal the immense influence of his creativity and highlight the significance of Musqueam art through profound storytelling.


The recipients of the 17th annual Polygon Award in First Nations Art and the Award of Distinction for Lifetime Achievement embody the richness and depth of Indigenous art. Through their exceptional talent and dedication, they have preserved and advanced First Nations art traditions, leaving a lasting impact on their communities and beyond.

From Xwalacktun's mastery of multiple art forms to Klatle-bhi Charles Sam's profound storytelling through traditional carving, each artist has shared their heritage, enhancing awareness and appreciation for Indigenous art.

As we celebrate these remarkable artists, we must also recognize the importance of preserving and promoting First Nations art, ensuring that future generations can marvel at the craftsmanship and gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous culture.


Is the Polygon Award in First Nations Art only for traditional art forms?

No, the Polygon Award in First Nations Art recognizes artists who commit to preserving and advancing First Nations art traditions, whether through traditional or contemporary art forms. It celebrates artists who bring a unique perspective to Indigenous culture.

What is the significance of the Award of Distinction for Lifetime Achievement?

The Award of Distinction for Lifetime Achievement acknowledges an established artist who has demonstrated long-term accomplishments and exceptional contributions to B.C.'s art scene. It celebrates an artist's profound impact and serves as a testament to their dedication and creativity.

Where can we view the works of these talented artists?

The works of these gifted artists can be found in prominent museums, such as the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City and the Burke Memorial Museum of Natural History in Seattle. Additionally, their installations can be experienced in various locations, including the Seattle Art Museum and the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.

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