Alvin Child

Northwest Coast Native Artist Alvin Child from Haida Nation

Haida Nation

Alvin Child was born in Alert Bay in 1962. He is a member of the Tsawataineuk Band from Kingcome Inlet. His father, John Alvin Dudoward, passed away when Alvin was a year old and his family relocated to Nanaimo, BC.

Alvin recalls a happy childhood with his mother, Irene Willie, and adoptive father, Ron Child. They encouraged Alvin’s education and he graduated from BCIT with a degree in Engineering. He didn’t develop a serious interest in art until 1984, after a chance encounter with renowned carver John Livingston.

Alvin was walking in Victoria’s Chinatown, when he suddenly heard an unusual sound – a loud chainsaw in the middle of the city. Curious, he followed the noise and came upon a building on Herald Street. He knocked on the door, but there was no answer. However, the door was unlocked, and with his curiosity piqued, he decided to let himself in.

Alvin describes the scene as follows, “There was a guy roughing out a design on a totem pole with a chainsaw. He didn’t know I was there and continued working.” Alvin watched until the man suddenly looked up and said, “Hey, Alvin.”

The man introduced himself as John Livingston, a master carver who was also an expert restorer and appraiser of native artifacts. He recognized Alvin because he knew his mother, Irene. Alvin went on to watch John work for the next four hours. He was fascinated with the process of carving and watching shapes come to life. John invited Alvin to come back the next day and said that if he was interested in carving, he should get some blades made. He drew the outlines and specifications of the blades on a piece of cardboard and handed it to Alvin. This was the beginning of a mentorship and friendship that lasted nearly 35 years until John’s passing.

During his lengthy career, Alvin has released several limited-edition screen prints, carved numerous plaques, and painted many drums that have been appreciated by collectors worldwide.