In the Beginning there was the First World

Raven Publishing Inc.

Regular price $10.00

Shipping calculated at checkout.

By Jim Gilbert, Ron Stacy, and Wedlidi Speck


This full-colour 16-page booklet is included in our Learning by Designing, Volume 2 book. It has a beautifully illustrated Pacific Northwest Coast creation story and 20 designs from the four major Native Indian art style areas.

Because of the demand, we have made this section available as a separate item.

About the Authors

Jim Gilbert, B.A. (April 8, 1932 - November 14, 2000)

Jim was trained under a traditional Kwagulth art apprenticeship with the Hunt family of Victoria. He worked with and for master carver, Tony Hunt Sr., learned the basics from master carver, Henry Hunt, and felt privileged to have danced at Henry's funeral potlatch.

Tony Hunt Sr. praised Learning by Designing Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian Art, Volume 1:

 “This book provides valuable information about the complex variations of Northwest Coast designs. It is well researched and all artists should benefit from this information. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK. Congratulations.” - Chief Tony Hunt Mupin Kim - Klah Kwa Tzee Four Times Chief/Big Copper - Kwagulth Master Carver and Artist.  Tsaxis/Victoria, B.C. 

Jim was a versatile and award-winning artist in both traditional and contemporary styles. Over the years, Jim was commissioned by a number of First Nations communities to produce carvings and silver jewellery to be used for ceremonial activities.

For thirty years, Jim was an active artist working mainly in the art form of the Pacific Northwest Coast First Nations. He worked in most coastal aboriginal art styles with artistic production ranging from original graphics, limited and open edition prints, carvings in wood, ivory, bone and stone, to hand engraved and sculptured jewellery pieces in silver and gold.

Jim was raised in Brentwood Bay on the Saanich Inlet. His early fishing and hunting partners were local and travelling Indigenous people. That, along with the influence of his father, Harry Gilbert (1898 - 1967), who painted and carved in the Native style, ensured Jim's lifelong affinity to the culture.

In Learning by Designing Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian Art, Volume 1 and Volume 2, companions for the previously published Learning by Doing Northwest Coast Native Indian Art, Jim shared his passion and respect for the art form and passed on his own training, understanding, skill, and experience with traditional art apprenticeship methods. His experience teaching First Nations art in Victoria schools gave him an understanding of effective methods of passing on artistic knowledge and skills to larger groups of students.

Jim used his artistic skills to create over fifteen hundred original illustrations for both volumes of Learning by Designing. His qualifications as a biologist, teacher, artist and author made him uniquely suited to be involved in the production of this extensive working guide and reference book.

Jim's desire was to pass on his knowledge and appreciation for Pacific Northwest Coast Native art. In his own words, "It is important to me to pass on what I have learned and to make others aware of the value of the finest and most sophisticated art form ever developed by an aboriginal people."

Wedlidi Speck, Chief Kimkaxawidi (Kwaguł- Gixsam), Chief Ma’malxtłu’sut (E’iksan – K’ate’mot) - Wedlidi is a member of the Namgis tribe of Alert Bay. He is Chief of the Kwaguł- Gixsam clan on his mother’s side, and through his maternal uncle, George Cook, Wedlidi is the hereditary chief of the E’iksan – K’ate’mot clan of the Island K’omoks.

Versed in his cultural history, Wedlidi plays the role of cultural advisor and speaker and mentor for several families. He is a storyteller, Clan Myth-Keeper and spiritual leader. He understands the importance of traditional knowledge, knowledge transfer and traditional decision making and mentors several emerging leaders and hereditary chiefs. In his work with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Wedlidi provides cultural advice to the organization’s leadership, management and staff. In his own words, “I have been blessed to be a bi-cultural Indigenous man who is living in a time that calls for new leadership and courageous conversations. It is a great time to be alive”.

For over 40 years, Wedlidi has utilized his free time and holiday time to provide cross cultural training to provincial and federal government employees, community organizations, and college and universities with a focus on cultural awareness, sensitivity, agility and safety topics. He has volunteered on Boards, committees and working groups and is an advocate for inclusion, diversity and collaborative practice.

Wedlidi currently lives in the Comox Valley. He is married and has four adult children, five grandchildren with a 6th grandchild on the way.

Wedlidi wrote In the Beginning, there was the First World, illustrated by Jim Gilbert and Ron Stacy, a beautifully illustrated Pacific Northwest Coast creation story with 20 designs comparing the four major native art style regions. The 16-page booklet is also included in Learning by Designing Volume 2, which includes an interview with Wedlidi.

“What does First Nation art mean to me? To the Tsimshian, Haida, Kwagiulth, Nuu-Chah-Nulth, or the Salish – all Native people of the Northwest Coast – art is a way to connect to our past, to our pride in who we are as people. It gives us wonderful, emotional connection to our past. Art is also language. It’s communicating something to us … The art tells us what is really important about our past. It mirrors to the community those values or ideas that are really important.” – Wedlidi Speck, Learning by Designing Volume 2, pg. 41.

Ron Stacy was born in Vancouver, BC, in 1943, a fifth generation North American. He has been involved with visual art all his life. “Sometimes the obligations of the artist are completely clear to me. Other times I have no understanding of what I do; knowing only that I must create. People say to me, “It must be a lot of fun, being an artist.’ I don’t find that to be true at all. It’s all-consuming hard work, which can be maddening and frustrating, but on some occasions, incredibly satisfying. Having said that, I can’t imagine doing anything else that gives so much pleasure.” Ron Stacy contributed to Karin Clark’s book Pacific Northwest Coast Aboriginal Art: What Am I Seeing?