Clifton Fred

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Vancouver, British Columbia

I was born in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory in 1967, as a Tlingit of the Kwanlin Dun   There, my mother raised me with my siblings in town and partially at a fish camp until I began school at five.  My appreciation of a simple pencil and paper brought alive a passion for drawing.  To me they were new toys and I grew fond of what they brought out of me.  Catholic School taught me to read, write and how to learn, while I taught myself how to draw.  At first there were animals, and then there were portraits.  The more I learned about my culture and who I was, where I belonged and what I could do, the more I realized I could express my feelings with images of situations that I thought people were curious about.  My father said, “You’re such good artist. You have gotten their attention. Now to keep it, you must have something interesting to say.  Use the opportunity to teach about your culture.”  From there I began to write poems or statements to give the viewers an idea of what I was thinking about while drawing the images that sometimes took up to 50 hours to complete.  I enjoy spending time in the solitude of the wilderness and have come to respect all our earth brothers.  My beliefs and the practice of Native Spirituality leads me to perceive them as greater beings than I, for my existence is dependent upon their presence, and not theirs upon mine.  I hope that others with compassion and concern will share my attitude towards life, in all forms.  In this ever-changing world, we must strive to preserve the bond with our Earth Mother and her remarkable creatures and the wonderful role we can play together in this experience we call ‘our lives’.