Bert deVink, Destinee Boyd and the late Jack Nelson were recognized and celebrated for their contributions to the community and the many ways in which they inspire others this week when they became the newest members of the Gallery of Honour.
The Quesnel and District Community Arts Council presented the Adult Award to Bert deVink during the Eighth Biennial Gallery of Honour presentation Wednesday, Feb. 12 at the Quesnel Arts and Recreation Centre and then recognized Jack Nelson with the Posthumous Award and honoured Destinee Boyd with the Youth Award.
The Edgar family offered an opening Honour Song, and Elder Ellie Peters welcomed everyone to the Lhtako Dené territory before the awards were presented.
The Gallery of Honour is meant “to honour those who have made significant contributions to the community through the arts over the years as visual, performing, support, educational, advocacy, artists, friends and advocates for the arts.”
Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson provided greetings and congratulations from the City of Quesnel.
“All very well-deserved recognition from the community, and on behalf of council, I want to thank you very much for your contributions,” he said.
Cariboo Regional District vice-chair John Massier congratulated the honourees on behalf of the regional district.
“I think the three people who are being inducted tonight are really three great examples from our community,” he said.
Adult Award: Bert deVink
Gloria Weber and Ron Friesen spoke about the contributions Bert deVink has made tot he community.
“I’m so pleased to be able to congratulate Bert for his artistic accomplishments in our community over the last 40 years,” said Weber. “Talking to Bert is an experience. Make a comment about our world today, and you will be taken into a world of the past and made to realize how fortunate this generation is. From his first pieces depicting the burden of man to his joyous set of the four musicians, Bert has created thought-provoking pieces of sculpture. Caged Bird makes use feel for the trapped animal. Time Machine makes us realize how trapped we are by our watches. The Musicians make us feel like we could dance the night away.”
Weber pointed out how many of deVink’s sculptures can be seen all over the city.
“Bert has had successful art shows in a variety of venues, including Island Mountain Arts in its inception, here at the Arts Centre, and in the early 1970s before he moved to our area, he sold small works in Gastown and then moved onto his own studio and gallery in Victoria,” she said. “Bert is a favourite performer at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 94 each Tuesday. His blues harmonica pours out melancholy and then joy when he plays a tune he learned from the gypsies as a youngster. Twice each month, he faithfully participates with the Windy Reeds as they entertain at Dunrovin and Maeford Place for our senior citizen residents, and he is always willing to volunteer his time to do any extra performances requested by volunteer programs in our city, such as Better At Home.”
Weber also noted that deVink has written many articles for the Quesnel Cariboo Observer over the years, which have all made people think.
“His contributions to the Observer were well-read and discussed by the community,” she said. “We don’t always agree, but we must agree that without Bert in our community, we would be without his food for thought,” she said.
Friesen, who called deVink his “brother from another mother,” had many kind words for his long-time friend.
“I’ve known Bert since 1975,” he said. “We had a lot of fun, and we’re still having fun, and he’s my very best friend. All I can say really is [he is] an artist with a phenomenal mind.”
Posthumous Award: Jack Nelson
Vickie Nelson nominated her late husband, Jack Nelson, for the Gallery of Honour, and she spoke about some of his accomplishments and the impacts he had on the community.
“I am more than happy that Jack is one of the Arts Council’s choices this year to join this distinctive group of talented citizens,” she said. “I nominated him because for years, I felt he belonged here. Every part of his life was creative. To quote Annie Gallant’s words in her newspaper writeup about him in 2017 when he passed away, ‘he had talents upon talents and gladly shared them with the community through our newspaper, his books, artwork, photography and his many public pursuits.’”
Vickie says Jack was always a strong advocate for the arts and one of Quesnel’s best ambassadors.
“It didn’t matter where our travels took us, Quesnel was always near and dear to him,” she said. “Wherever he was, whatever he was doing, whether he was at the church door — and it didn’t matter which church — or behind the counter in Willis Harper or decked in his Billy Barker Days costume down at the station when the Rocky Mountaineer came in, he was always ready to meet and greet people and welcome them to Quesnel.”
Vickie says Jack would always write a eulogy for a friend if he was asked to, and he would take a church service if there was no minister available.
Jack wrote two books, and his first book, A Walk Back in Time — Quesnel, B.C. in the 1950s, sold out in a few weeks, and a second printing also sold out, noted Vickie.
“People are still asking for it,” she said, adding if it can be digitized, there may be another printing in the future.
Long before he wrote his books, Jack created pictures.
“Perhaps you were a recipient of one of his large greeting cards,” said Vickie. “Over the years, he would often come home and say it was someone’s birthday or anniversary or something special, and off he’d go to create a large 12×16 card for them. He was good at caricatures, and it always amazed me how quickly he could create them. Old buildings in and around Quesnel, Cottonwood, Barkerville and the list goes on — these were his favourites. I helped him silkscreen into normal-sized greeting cards. He had no formal training; he had and uncle who would have paid for him to go to arts school, but he knew his mom needed him to help at home, so that dream never happened.”
Jack was also an actor, and he and Vickie met while they were both acting in the musical “Oklahoma” with Quesnel Little Theatre.
Jack was an award-winning photographer whose picture appeared in a national magazine. Vickie says he never went anywhere without his camera.
In 1998, Jack Nelson became Quesnel’s Citizen of the Year for 1997, and in 2002, having been nominated by the City of Quesnel, he earned the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal.
Following Vickie’s speech, Jack’s brother, Mike Nelson, performed a couple songs in Jack’s honour.
Youth Award: Destinee Boyd
Destinee Boyd, a proud member of the Lhtako Dené Nation, was honoured with the Youth Award.
“Destinee’s grown up to be such a beautiful young lady,” said Tammy Burns. “She’s done amazing things. This young lady, she has done beautiful things for our community. She’s such a role model for our youth.”
When Boyd was six, the Elders chose her as the Nation’s Lifetime Pow Wow Princess. Boyd has been Hoop Dancing since she was six, and she now teaches others Hoop Dancing, as well as Jingle and Fancy Dance. Boyd has performed all over B.C. and at various events and Pow Wows, and she volunteers at many events in the community.
She is learning to drum and sing and learning her language, and Boys plans to study fine arts in her post-secondary education.
Boyd is considered a great role model for youth in the community, as she follows the Red Road, living a life free from alcohol and drugs while she practises her culture.
“Thank you to the people who nominated me and the people who picked me to get this award,” said Boyd. “The things I do in this community make me happy and feel like I’m making a difference for the future generations to show that if you stay to your roots, good things will come out of it.”
Photographs and short biographies of Destinee Boyd, Jack Nelson and Bert deVink will now hang in the Gallery of Honour, which is on the ramp leading from the Arts Centre to the front desk foyer at the Quesnel Arts and Recreation Centre.