Fellow Grizzly Bear Foundation board members Laura Grizzlypaws and Doria Moodie met in Whistler, BC last week to celebrate a new painting that brings together their shared love for grizzly bears and artistic expression. The painting by Doria Moodie beautifully recreates a powerful image of Laura Grizzlypaws and Grizz below Jenny Mountain in St’at’imc territory.
A year in the making
“It was well over a year ago, that I had approached Doria to do a painting, as we brainstormed and shared images, I wanted her to create something that also reflected the unity of the human and the bear spirit as we are Xwisten, known as the Bear Clan People and the "Smiling People" because of the abundance of salmon harvest, and the location of our community,” said Laura Grizzlypaws.
Laura Grizzlypaws is a dancer, singer/songwriter, academic, educator, and cultural advocate from Lillooet, British Columbia in the Interior Plateau region. She is of St’át’imc descent and her St’át’imc name is “Stálhalamcen – Grizzly Paws.”
“Grizz is the grizzly bear I dance with. He’s from my community of Xwisten. The grizzly bear habitat has been encroached upon. He was put down for the safety of humans.”
Together Grizzlypaws and Grizz acknowledge Grizz’s spirit. They evoke the days when grizzly bears once roamed the land with no human threat. Grizz now marks his ancestral footprints to provide hope and sustainability through cultural education to empower, promote and to increase awareness of cultural identity, community and family values.
"I walked where the Grizzly Bear dances. I feel his pleasure, excitement and freedom on the earth and in the wind that carries his messages from the past. I dance where the Grizzly Bear danced his steps leaving an ancestral footprint on the land like a cellular memory in my blood." - Laura Grizzlypaws
“The first time I became aware of the amazing woman known as Laura Grizzlypaws was when she performed at the Grizzly Bear Foundation Night of the Grizzly fundraising gala in September 2019," says Doria Moodie. "Along with everyone else in attendance at the Vancouver Convention Centre, I was riveted by her powerful, inspiring performance. Laura's persona as part Grizz, part timeless woman/mother, her mesmerizing dance and beautiful singing of her original songs, and her message of empowerment of women and nature resonated deeply within me and in everyone I spoke with afterward."
"So I was surprised and delighted when Laura asked me to do a painting of her to give to her special friend and mentor, Bradley Jack, former chief of Xwisten, the Bear Clan, to which Laura also belongs, to thank him for his unwavering support and encouragement over many years. She and her daughter Sulyalesta came to visit my studio in late 2019 on her drive home from YVR after a work visit to Mexico City with Grizz, so I got to see and feel Grizz in person. Laura has lined him with beautiful fabric and sews her regalia as well as her daughter’s and her older sons, who also perform spectacularly.
Laura and I tried to meet up a few times during this last Covid year, but it didn’t happen until this week. We spent a fun few hours together in Whistler and Sulyalesta was happy to explore some new playgrounds. Laura holds several degrees in arts and linguistics and a Masters degree in education. She has taught well over 100 adult students the traditional St’át’imc language, history and culture. I look forward to visiting her in Xwisten, the upper St’át’imc territory and learning more about that culture myself. The Grizzly Bear Foundation is very fortunate to have had Laura recently join our board.”
Doria is a full-time artist based in Whistler, BC represented by Mountain Galleries at the Fairmont Hotels in Whistler, Banff, Jasper, and Mountain Galleries East in Stratford, Ont. In addition to being a member of our board, Doria is the official artist for the Grizzly Bear Foundation. Doria and Mountain Galleries have each committed to donating 1% of her annual sales to the Grizzly Bear Foundation. We are grateful for their passion and support.
To see more of Doria’s work:
To see more of Laura’s work:
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