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First Nations Fine Arts Students Honoured for Excellence

TERRACE A repeat winner and a double winner highlight a trio of students recognized for excellence in the First Nations Fine Arts Program at Northwest Community College (NWCC). The awards were presented in late April as part of the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art 2009 student art exhibition, which featured works from the Schools graduating first- and second-year students. Three students earned the prestigious YVR Art Foundation Scholarshipfirst-year students Shawn Aster and Latham Mack and second year graduate Sophia Beaton. For Beaton, it was an unprecedented second straight such honour. Born of Tsimshian and Heiltsuk descent, she won the YVR Art Foundation Scholarship in her first year and again got the nod as a diploma student this year. Latham Mack, from the Grizzly Bear Clan of the Nuxalk Nation, is one of two first-year certificate students at the School to earn the YVR award. Mack, who came from Bella Coola to study at NWCC, will continue in September in the First Nations Fine Arts program. Joining Mack is Shawn Aster, from the Ganhada Clan of the Tsimshian Nation. Aster, raised in the Village of Gitkxaala (Kitkatla), will also continue on at the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art to complete the second year diploma program. As YVR Art Foundation Scholarship winners for 2009, all three earn scholarship monies and will have their art works displayed at YVR Vancouver International Airport. These three students are truly deserving of this recognition, said Freda Diesing School instructor Stan Bevan. Having their art work displayed alongside that of other emerging artists and established ones at YVR is priceless. Additionally, Aster was chosen by the Schools senior advisor, Dempsey Bob, as winner of the 2009 Dempsey Bob Lifetime Achievement Award for Emerging Artists. Bob, a master Tahltan/Tlingit carver who has taught for more than 30 years, was himself the recipient of a BC Creative Lifetime Achievement Award for Aboriginal Art in 2007. With the money that came with the acknowledgement, Bob established the award, given each year for five years to a young, emerging artist who excels in school and displays the qualities necessary to succeed as a full-time artist. NWCC matches the $1,000 award if the recipient is enrolled at the Freda Diesing School. This marks the third straight year one of its students has won the award. We are proud of these students who continue to put the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art on the map, added NWCC President Stephanie Forsyth. People continue to take notice of the stellar art that is emerging from the School.

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