Richard Hunt was born in Alert Bay, BC, in 1951, but has lived most of his life in Victoria. He began carving with his father, the late Henry Hunt, at the age of 13. He completed his high school education at Victoria High School in 1971. In 1973, Richard began work at the Royal British Columbia Museum as an apprentice carver under his father. The following year he assumed the duties of chief carver in the Thunderbird Park Carving Program. He remained in the museum in that capacity for twelve years. In 1986, Richard resigned to begin a new career as a freelance artist. Richard comes from a family of internationally respected artists, which include his father, as well as his grandfather, Mungo Martin.
In 1994, Richard received the most prestigious award of his career, The Order of Canada. “The Order was established in 1967 as a means of recognizing outstanding achievement, honouring those who have given services to Canada, to their fellow citizens or to humanity at large.”
In 2002, Richard received the Golden Jubilee Medal, the approved creation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, in honour of her 50th anniversary of her accession to the throne, and presented to citizens of Canada “who have demonstrated exceptional qualities and outstanding service to their country.”
In May 2004, Richard was accepted into the membership of the Royal Academy of the Arts in recognition for his outstanding achievements within the visual arts. In June 2004, he received an Honourary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria. This prestigious award has a special meaning to Richard because his late father, Henry Hunt, was awarded the same degree in 1983.
Richard Hunt’s First Nations name is highly appropriate, considering his accomplishments. Gwe-la-yo-gwe-la-gya-les means “a man who travels around the world giving.” Through his art, and his dancing, Richard Hunt has indeed given much to the world.
2010 British Columbia Creative Achievement Award for First Nations’ Art