My given name is Gordon Sparks, my clan mother is the beaver, clan spirit animal the bear, born from the Turtle River, and the salmon is our clan totem, raised on Pabineau band first nation, now living in Halifax N.S. Canada.
Through the traditional hand-carved wooden mask, I am on a vision path that is guiding my mind, body, and spirit to seek knowledge and wisdom of the Mi’kmaq peoples stories, traditional ceremonies, traditional food, and medicine. Each mask that I make is from a traditional story, and has a personal story on how I was guided to find the tree, take its life, and carve the spirit out of the wood for all to see, and listen to what the mask has to say to ears that need to hear it. There is a ceremony involved for each mask when woken up to be put on a wall for people to see, and put to sleep in a box to be transferred to one place to another. The vision I have been given guides my passion, and desire to record the past and present, with three dimensional form. I strongly believe in three dimensional forms and storytelling. Each mask speaks to me, guides me, and each tree that is chosen speaks to me to continue to carve the spirit of the wood, to be shown to all people of the land. In the end the spirits of the trees will speak of our ancestors, through three dimensional form, and storytelling around the sacred fire, the language of the land. My work as a traditional hand-carved wooden mask maker represents tradition for the Mi’kmaq people, to guarantee the preservation of traditional values, new ceremonies, oral storytelling, and the gathering of people to share in life stories together as a community.
“As a Mi’kmaq person with the gift to create with my hands and the gift of storytelling it is my honor, privilege and obligation to do my part in helping our people remember our place, gather and reunite on this land we know as Mi’kma’ki.”
This catalog was created with the help of Mi’Kmaq Language Keepers Barbara Sylliboy and Arlene Stevens, and the coordination of Mi’Kmaq Language Coordinator Giselle Stevens. Wela’lioq, we are grateful for your knowledge and work.
We wish to acknowledge the generous support of Arts Nova Scotia and the Halifax Regional Municipality for the funding provided to mount this exhibition and it’s associated programming.