Jack James was born around 1915 on Gwa'yasdams (Gilford Island). A member of the Kwakwakaw'wakw First Nation. He was the father and teacher of Basil James (1938 - 2005). A totem pole in his honour, carved by his son Basil, stands in the city of Duncan on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The following is part of a recorded conversation between Basil James and his father, Jack James in 1988. It describes a flood story told in a community close to Mount Stephens, near Gilford Island, off Vancouver Island:
Kwankwanxwalige' (Thunderbird) is on top of the pole. He came down from Mount Stephens, right after the flood. There was a little village there, we call it K'we. He took his Thunderbird dress off and he acted like a man. On the chest of this Thunderbird is a Giant, a Dzunuk'wa (Wild Woman). On the bottom of the pole is the Max'inuxw (Killer Whale) and on his fin is the Luwagila (Raven). The Killer Whales, they save a lot of men, they take them ashore.
Jack said of the symbols on this pole: They are all ours, our own (James family). Basil honoured his father by using the family crests in the carving.