Toquaht, Nuu-chah-nulth Nation, and Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation
Bayja is from Toquaht, Nuu-chah-nulth Nation, and Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation. She was born and raised in Tofino British Columbia and is now living in Victoria British Columbia.
Being from a small ocean-side community, Bayja spent a lot of time in her young life on the water and in nature. Her father was a fisherman and woodcarver and her grandmother, an artist who really could do anything (but mainly painted), created an environment to allow her artistic freedom to flow and grow. Art lessons with her grandmother are some of her most treasured memories today.
"She is one of the most powerful women I’ve ever met and so very herself," says Bayja. "She sparked a love of drawing and painting when I was young and a love of music too. She taught me the guitar and to sing. She’s a beautiful individual inside and out. Her teachings will last with me for the rest of my life.”
Bayja is now attending Vancouver Film School for Animation Concept Art in hopes of furthering her skill and turning her passion for art into a career. Alongside school, she’s been practicing Indigenous art, from drawing out designs to beading and creating jewelry. Her main goal is to one day combine her knowledge of film with Indigenous art as a method of sharing stories with the next generation and with the rest of the world as a character designer and storyboard artist.
"I want to use the medium of film to further tell the stories of my culture," Bayja explains. "It gets the word out and is an expressive form of media. A powerful tool for teaching.”
She values her small ocean town upbringing as an inspiration for her art. From watching seagulls steal her family’s catch, to eagles flying in the bay, bears on the islands, or wolves on the mudflats, Tofino is a truly wild area. Her parents taught her respect for the local wildlife and for mother ocean, a value that today fuels her artwork and connectedness. Bayja is a firm believer that inspiration for art lives in everything.
“We are products of our environments as is everything else. When I need inspiration, I find the best thing to do is take a moment and look around myself. I think of people I’ve met, the nature that surrounds us, and the experiences I’ve had. It’s good to create what you know. It gives you a connectedness to it."
Indigenous Peoples Day Design
The wolf is the protector. I feel like this day symbolizes strength and resilience.
A mother wolf is never to be be doubted or underestimated. She will stay up all night if it means her young are cared for and safe, something I think many parents today can relate to. The mother wolf will concern and worry, she will fight tirelessly until her pups are grown.
She is an ambitious, powerful force like our people, who have fought for generations to be here and to raise our children so they may have a bright future. This mother wolf was never assured or promised anything, yet she still fights like there is no tomorrow because her two pups are relying on her.
We are the result of those who fought for us. We’ve all seen it, whether it’s on the news, through a family member, or maybe it was you that fought yourself, we all continue to push for the strength we were given so we may pass it on.
Those who fought for us yesterday still protect us today. Now we will do the same so we may be carried by our children one day as they fight for their own.
At the end of the day, love always wins