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Idle No more

Kwakwaka’wakw Chief Performed Shaming rite

Chief Beau Dick with broken Copper piece, Photo by Scott Polson

Chief Beau Dick with broken Copper piece, Photo by Scott Polson

UPDATE: THE RITE WAS PERFORMED [scroll down for photos of broken shield]

First Nations Chief to Perform Rare Shaming Rite Against Harper Government
FEBRUARY 10, 2013 via Facebook

“To be shamed was one of the worst things that could happen to you,” Cranmer said, adding: “What Beau Dick is doing is more symbolic than anything.”

A traditional Kwakwaka’wakw ceremony that has not been performed for decades will take place Sunday on the legislature lawn as a symbolic shaming of the federal government.

A copper — a metal plaque traditionally used to measure the status, wealth and power of Kwakwaka’wakw chiefs — will be broken by hereditary Chief Beau Dick, who has walked from Quatsino, near Port Hardy, with family members and supporters. “The copper is a symbol of justice, truth and balance, and to break one is a threat, a challenge and can be an insult,” Dick said. “If you break copper on someone and shame them, there should be an apology.”

Moments after the Copper Shield broke, Photo by Scott Polson

Moments after the Copper Shield broke, Photo by Scott Polson

Dick is under no illusions that the federal government will change course because of the ceremony, but he hopes it will prompt people to start thinking about the need to protect the environment and stop what the “cultural genocide” against First Nations.

Dick said. “I think the federal government have shamed themselves, and this is a response.” Dick is being supported by Idle No More organizers, who have orchestrated demonstrations, events and blockades across Canada as a response to the federal government’s omnibus budget bills, which are seen to be gutting environmental protections and trampling treaty rights.

From Facebook, the piece of broken copper left on the steps of Victoria legislature as a challenge

From Facebook, the piece of broken copper left on the steps of Victoria legislature as a challenge

The Idle No More movement is helping people connect the dots about issues such as corrupt corporate values and disappearing salmon stocks, Dick said. “I want change. I want everyone to have equal rights and be able to live harmoniously,” she said. “Most of all, I want a future for our children. What we are leaving them is very minimal.”

Coppers play an important role in Kwakwaka’wakw ceremonies, but copper cutting stopped in the 1950s, said ‘Namgis Chief Bill Cranmer.
“Our people were using coppers to fight each other,” he said.

Cutting copper was done if someone had been insulted. If that person could not cut a bigger piece of copper with a similar value, they were shamed. “To be shamed was one of the worst things that could happen to you,” Cranmer said, adding: “What Beau Dick is doing is more symbolic than anything.”


Chief Beau Dick holding cut copper shield, Photo by Anissa Reed

Chief Beau Dick holding cut copper shield, Photo by Anissa Reed

READ MORE: Breaking Tináa, Breaking Copper Shields, and Bringing Shame in Raven’s Bioregion
[On February 2nd Hereditary Chief and his family embarked on a journey to Victoria Legislature arriving on Sunday the 10th for the copper cutting ceremony.] CLICK HERE FOR VIDEOS.


From Spirits of the West Coast Art Gallery:
“Beau Dick was Born on November 23, 1955 on Village Island, Kingcome Inlet, B.C.. Beau is a respected Kwakwaka’wakw chief and one of the most accomplished and talented traditional carvers and artists on the West Coast. Actively engaged in all aspects of Kwakwaka’wakw culture, he is highly regarded as a teacher and mentor. Beau has concentrated on studying and reviving the traditions of carving, dance and story telling, Beau’s many works include: masks, bowls, rattles, drums, original paintings and limited edition prints. He began carving at a very early age, studying under his father, Francis and his grandfather James Dick working with Tony Hunt, Henry Hunt, Bill Reid, Doug Cranmer and Robert Davidson. His many important pieces are in the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Heard Museum (Phoenix), Burke Museum (Seattle) , B.C. Provincial Museum as well as in the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.”


Chief Beau Dick, Photo by Geoffrey McNamara

Chief Beau Dick, Photo by Geoffrey McNamara


READ MORE: Breaking Tináa, Breaking Copper Shields, and Bringing Shame in Raven’s Bioregion
Also see:



13 thoughts on “Kwakwaka’wakw Chief Performed Shaming rite

  1. I am aboriginal. I am proud of Beau and his people, my people. it is time to stop the ignorance. the Canadian people need to realize that yes the Canadian gov’t is funding aboriginal people and causes BUT this funding rarely reaches the aboriginal it was intended for. the funding gets lost in the bureaucracy of federal and aboriginal agencies. the copper breaking ceremony is sacred to all aboriginals and it should be respected by both provincial and federal gov’t’s. the time has come. we are idle no more.

    Posted by jean | February 13, 2013, 12:07 AM
  2. He has good intentions, but too bad he’s not a real chief.

    Posted by flora | February 12, 2013, 7:12 AM
    • He is a hereditary Chief and a leader in his community. He is a real leader in case you’re doubting this. WHy too bad? Idle No More is grassroots, Chief or not, if someone makes a statement like this, it is powerful.

      As a hereditary Chief and someone constantly involved in keeping Kwakwaka’wakw culture, art, spirituality alive, it is most appropriate for him to put together the copper cutting ceremony.

      Posted by Drummer | February 12, 2013, 4:08 PM
  3. Yo’ Cousins ; This is Quin-qua-las-gie-leese Nunzi ; I Remain Troubled Over The Idle No More Direction & The Validity Of Breaking A Copper At The Victoria Legistlation Buildings For These Following Reasons : #1. Aboriginal Reconciliation Ministry Designs The Nanwakolas Council Society , As Well as The First Nations Coast . These Two Federally & Provincially Sponsored , Elected Indian Band Entities Total 10 Federally Elected Indian Bands / That Have The Ministry Of Environment , Forrests , Energy Mines Resources All Tied Into Agreements . #2. The B.C. Aboriginal Reconciliation Ministry Some How ; “Accept Inherent Aboriginal & Aboriginal Titled Rights Having Been Represented By Fronted Electorial Process’s ; That Abolished The Hereditary Chief’s Entitlement Rights Of Their Inherent Territories By The Means Of Proprietary Rights Through The Laws Of Descent For Thousands Of Years Before B.C. Or Vancouver’s Island Was Ever Colinized By This Colonial Government We Still Exsist Under! Since 1924 , The DIAND’s Indian Act Stripped Hereditary Chiefs Of Their Positions Of A Cultural Hierarchy Of The Laws Of Descent Of Indiginous Aboriginal Peoples That Do Know How To Hold On Too Mother Earths Living Heart Of All Creatures Of Life Daily Balances! #2. Am I Now To Asume That The 10 Coastal First Nations ( Elected Indian Band Leaderships ) That Belong To The Nanwakolas Council Society & Have Already Let The Ink Dry In 2007 ; With The Ministry O Environment , Forrests , Mines , Fisheries ; ect. And All Of Those 10 Indian Bands Members Were Not Informed At The Elected Leadership Levels Of Their Individual Elected Chiefs & Councils Of Thier Indian Bands! The Ink Is Dry! ——- A Waisted Effort So Far In My View Of “Elected Indian Leaderships Simply To Be Aloud Too Front Their Propogating Dictatorships! ——- “Read The Nanwakolas Council Society Agreement & The First Nations Coast & Then Try Tell Me I’m Wrong! Rest My Case The Elected Leaderships ( Indian Band Chiefs & Councils Need More Accountability & Transparency Too Their Individual Indian Bands & More Voting Referendums On Decision Making When Making Big Million Dollar Money Deals For Their Peoples! ) Rest My Case!

    Posted by Ritchie G. Quocksister | February 12, 2013, 4:19 AM
    • Hi Quin-qua-las-gie-leese Nunzi,
      To clear up some confusion about the direction of idle no more, you can visit the official website at I have also provided some information on this blog (tabs at the top), as well as a list of links (in the right-hand column) to blogs and news sites providing more information. As a grassroots movement, it is my understandin that each community is making this their “own” according to their local traditions and concerns, therefore expect many more stories similar to this one in the news, spanning the country, and the world.

      To better understand the validity of the walk and copper cutting ceremony, you can check read more in the links provided in the text of this article. Or you can check out:

      Hope that helps!

      Posted by Drummer | February 12, 2013, 5:43 PM
  4. very powerful!

    Posted by Mildred Sarah Tremblay | February 12, 2013, 1:25 AM
  5. Thank you for posting drummer. I was at the legislature myself on Sunday and was brought to tears by the humbleness of Chief Beau Dick. I have always thought that the Government of British Columbia should be on trial for rape of our resources and for genocide of our first nations.

    Posted by island_girl2 | February 12, 2013, 1:01 AM
  6. good work–there were many terrific speeches.

    Posted by Dave Godfrey | February 11, 2013, 5:00 PM


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