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Freda Diesing scholarship a story in itself

TERRACE A Lower Mainland couples love of Northwest Coast First Nations art has translated into a special relationship with Northwest Community Colleges (NWCC) Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art (FDS) and a scholarship that awards mature students. The philanthropy of establishing a scholarship is a celebrated story in itself, but this award in a just two years has taken on a special significance. Freelance writer Bruce Byfield and partner Patricia Williams established the award a year before Williamss passing in 2010. The award is now given in her memory to a mature student from the Freda Diesing School who has demonstrated leadership and mentoring qualities in the classroom. Byfield says as a couple they began collecting Northwest Coast art a few years ago and it was a shared passion that had intensified late in Williamss life as it was a hobby that did not discriminate against her deteriorating health. Byfield says their passion went beyond simply buying the art; they got to know the artists and appreciated just how hard they work at their craft. We wanted to give something back, said Byfield, a journalist who specializes in writing about free and open source software. They chose to support the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art because, as he puts it, Its the major carving school in B.C. They chose to reward a mature student (25 and over) because they noticed many awards for First nations carvers were for artists under 25. Additionally, in Byfields experience as a former university instructor, he noticed mature students often have to give up more than their younger counterparts because of their life circumstances. (Going back to school) is psychologically harder for older students its a bit of a culture shock, adds Byfield. But mature students often change the tone of a class. This years winner is Barry Sampare, with honourable mentions to Robert Moses White and Evan Aster. Byfield says Sampare is a deserving winner who has worked hard to overcome obstacles in his own life and is starting to develop his own style in his artwork, one of the first key steps in defining oneself in the carving world. The 2011 FDS student exhibit proved to an emotional one for Byfield, who says his yearly trip here has become a fixture in his calendar because there is no other show like it in B.C. in terms of size and quality. In the first year since he lost his partner, last years award winner Carol Young gave a eulogy for Williams, in which she spoke of her lifelong interest in Northwest Coast Art and her love of crafts. Then she announced that, in honor of Trish, each student would take a rose and hand it to someone in the audience, said Byfield in his blog, Off the Wall. That was it. I lost all hope of control and started crying. By the time Carol announced me, I could barely see for crying. It is Byfields wish to build up the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art Mature Student Award so that it becomes self-sufficient and permanent beyond his life. Donations to this award can be made by contacting Jill Pimlott, NWCC Associate Registrar at 250.638.5477.

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