On Friday, famed goalie mask artist Dave Gunnarss0n of DaveArt released his latest design for Vancouver Canucks netminder Braden Holtby. By Saturday afternoon the design was pulled from the artists social media pages
It is believed that the new mask design was pulled due to pressures and concerns voiced from some inside (and outside) the First Nations community who felt the design was done without consultation or participation from the indigenous people of British Columbia, and thus, the new mask art could be deemed cultural appropriation.
Braden Holtby’s new mask is no longer on DaveArt’s Instagram. 🤔
— Daniel Wagner (@passittobulis) December 12, 2020
On Friday, Gunnarsson debuted the new design on his @DaveArt Instagram page. (The post has since been removed. A separate video post covering the new design was also been removed.)
Holtby’s new mask design featured the Thunderbird, a supernatural figure associated with Northwest Coast Indigenous myths.
The Thunderbird is said to be the creator of thunder by flapping its sizable wings (which also shoot arrows to hunt prey) and igniting flashes of lightning by blinking its eyes.
Each side of the mask included massive wings painted in Canucks blue and green. The top of the mask features the head and beak consistent with Indigenous renderings of the creature.
In Native American culture, the Thunderbird is a symbol of power, strength and nobility, and is known for protecting humans from evil spirits.
[UPDATE – 10:00 PM]
Braden Holtby will not wear the new Indigenous-themed mask he had planned to debut with his new team this season after being accused of cultural appropriation.
“I just wanted to make sure I apologize to anyone I had offended,” Holtby told CTV News’ Emad Agahi on Saturday. “It was definitely not my intent and I definitely learned a valuable lesson through this all and I’ll make sure I’m better and moving forward, do the things that help the community the most.”
“When we see the mask, although looking brilliant, one of the first questions you ask is, ‘Who made it?'” said Robert Philips, a member of the First Nations Summit Political Executive and the Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (Shuswap) of the Canim Lake First Nation.
“Immediately thoughts of cultural appropriation come up,” Philip told Agahi.
Jay Soule, an Indigenous artist based in Toronto, had a suggestion for Holtby.
Holtby told Agahi he plans to collaborate with a First Nations artist for a new mask he’ll wear for the 2020-21 season.
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