Peace Dancer cover
Artist Roy Henry Vickers marked his 70th birthday this year with the publication of Peace Dancer, the fourth and final book in his northwest coast legends series. Co-authored by Robert Budd, an oral historian, the book released by Harbour Publishing features 18 colour prints by Vickers and encourages peaceful action in the face of adversity.
Peace Dancer tells the story of how the Tsimshian village of Kitkatla is flooded after children capture and mistreat a crow, angering the chief of the heavens. Villagers flee to a nearby mountain, where they teach the youngsters to respect other beings. As the rain recedes, a chief is appointed to perform a special peace dance at potlatches to carry the teaching forward to future generations.
“I don’t think’s there a more fitting time for the story than now,” says Vickers, noting it is written in language children can understand, but is relevant to people of all ages and cultures. “It’s love of each other that we need to share and acceptance of each other that we need to share.”
Vickers is a painter, printmaker and carver, as well as an author. He grew up in Greenville, B.C., a village northeast of Prince Rupert, and overcame struggles with addiction and poverty as a young man. He has received numerous honours, including the Order of Canada and an honorary doctorate from York University in Toronto.
Vickers has owned the Eagle Aerie Gallery in Tofino on Vancouver Island for 30 years, although he recently moved back to Hazelton, where he grew up. He still creates 12 limited edition silkscreen prints each year for the gallery, and is also collaborating with Budd on an illustrated oral history of British Columbia.
“I am more active now than I have been in 42 years as an artist,” says Vickers. “I don’t plan to retire. To me retirement is when you don’t breathe any more. I hope that’s another 30 years from now.”