Well-known Canadian artist Roy Henry Vickers and Canadian historian Robert “Lucky” Budd share details about their passions, what brought them together to write children’s stories, and what they’re working on now in an email interview with Enter Here Canada founder, Jenn Gill.
An interview with Robert “Lucky” Budd
Jenn Gill: What ignited your passion for oral history?
Robert “Lucky” Budd: I have always loved storytelling, I used to love when my teachers would read us stories during circle time as far back as Jr. Kindergarten. When I got a little older, I found reading about history to be interesting for only a short time. Eventually, I found myself neglecting my studies to read epic stories like that of King Arthur. When I heard my first oral histories, it ignited a passion in me. Here was a way to get into a history through the character of someone who lived it! Embedded in the narrative were lots of facts, and I could get a feel for “what it was like”. When a good storyteller is rolling, you are transported beside them, living through the story. I would love to bring that back into teaching because so many incredible lessons get passed along this way.
Why do you think it’s important to preserve people’s stories?
As humans, we have the gift of empathy. When we hear someone’s voice, we are able to get a glimpse into their experience. People live through amazing changes in their lifetimes, their stories are the best tool they have to teach what they know.
What inspired you to write children’s books?
As someone who loves stories, I get a fire within me when I hear a good one. The first time I heard Roy tell the story that would be the basis for our book “Raven Brings The Light” I saw the book as clear as day in my mind. Once that vision is there, I just had to do my part to help share it with the world.
What are you working on now?
I am a full-time dad with two amazing children (ages 3.5 and 6). While doing that I am working on two books with Roy, 3 personal memoirs and have an iron in the fire for a book about one of the great American rock bands. 🙂
An interview with Roy Henry Vickers
Jenn Gill: Can you describe the time in your life when you realized making art was something that you’d like to do as a career?
Roy Henry Vickers: I have always been one who loved creativity, I was sure to get in trouble is some classes because I was drawing instead of listening to my English teacher or math teacher. When I became an adult I started working in the Saanich Fire Department in Victoria and continued with my hobby of art. I was studying in the museum in Victoria and would sometimes carve on night shift. I was told by my fellow firemen that I should be working as an artist not a fireman so in my mid-twenties I began to realize I might be able to make creativity my vocation.
How did you overcome colour blindness? And how has that changed your art?
I’ve never had a desire to overcome colour blindness, it has actually helped me as an artist. People have always commented on my bold use of colour and how they appreciated it. Colour was never an issue in the beginning because my work was traditional Tsimshian style with colours of red and black. I began my contemporary expression painted landscapes and sunsets in the 1980’s and had to overcome my fear of using colour. I quickly discovered my palette was appreciated by thousands. I believe I’ve been able to reach millions more with my contemporary style and attract them to the art and culture of the Pacific Northwest. I began my career with the passion of teaching my ancestral northwest coast roots and have continued as a teacher.
What inspired you to create children’s books?
As a teacher it’s exciting to know that children are being inspired. When one learns they teach many. Lucky was really the inspiration and driving force behind putting my childhood stories to print accompanied by my art.
What are you working on now?
I believe your story is the most important story you have to share with the world and so continue to work as a storyteller, writer, and sculptor. I’m working with Lucky on stories of British Columbia that have accompanied me and nurtured me all my life. I’m working on the most important project of my life, a large traditional house front totem for my brother, Ted Walkus, the head of the House of Walkus in Owikeeno, B.C.I’m also working on my output of fine art prints for my Roy Henry Vickers Gallery in Tofino, B.C.