Hunt, Eugene

Eugene was born in 1946 in Alert Bay, British Columbia and peacefully passed away in Victoria on June 28, 2002. Born to Thomas and Emma Hunt, he was a member of the Fort Rupert Band of the Kwagiulth nation. In the early 1960's Eugene spent about four years carving at the Thunderbird Park, Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria where he learned from Mungo Martin and Henry Hunt. He left his art work for the next twenty-five years in which he spent commercial fishing on the west coast of B.C. Eugene resumed carving in 1987 and also took up painting. In recent years he worked with Calvin Hunt and George Hunt Jr., and his very good friend John Livingston.

'A lot of you know what an awesome salesman Eugene was; he could sell prints to anyone. Discovering a newly opened medical building, he walked into the first doctor's office and asked the receptionist if the doc was in. 'Do you have an appointment?', she asked. 'No, but I have some native art to show him.' Eugene then turned to waiting patients and soon the waiting room floor was completely covered with prints and he made four sales. The doctor heard the commotion and came to see what was happening. Euie sold him two prints. Eugene then spent three hours in the building, going door to door. 'John,' he told me, 'it was a gold mine!' from John Livingstone's eulogy for Eugene Hunt.

Eugene Hunt (1946-2002) is gone, but his legacy lives on. His designs are full of integrity, classic examples of Kwakwakw'waka design. Eugene Hunt's strength and imagination are evident in every one. For well over a century, the Hunt family of Fort Rupert has embodied the Kwakwaka'wakw culture. George Hunt (1879-1924) was the original intermediary between native and white culture, working for ethnologist Franz Boas. It was George Hunt who collected the artefacts, gathered and translated the stories which became the cornerstone for the study of his people. Eugene's older sister Gloria Roze continued the story. 'The Hunt family is one of the lucky families,' she explained to me. 'We never lost that identity. In Fort Rupert they used to hide the children in the village, so they wouldn't be sent to residential school. My father moved our family to Alert Bay so the children could go to school on a daytime basis and still live at home with their family', Gloria recalls. 'Dad said school made us lazy'. 

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