Adapted from “Tradition – What’s in an Emblem?” by Garry W. Phillips in Vector, Fall 1985

The present emblem of the BCAMT was originally designed to highlight the 1982 Northwest Mathematics conference in Vancouver. Lyle Wilson created the striking design and it was so impressive that the BCAMT immediately adopted it as the symbol of our association.

The idea for the design comes from one of the core beliefs of Northwest First Nation cultures: the often-mystical interrelationship between man and animal. Humans are thought to be dependent on the good will of animals, and when a human dies his or her spirit can be transformed into an animal.

The BCAMT symbol depicts both aspects of the legend: one part is a stylistic killer whale and the other part is an embryonic human figure. The killer whale has a dorsal fin and a blowhole, and the merging human has a well-defined hand. To show the similarity and rapport between the two parts of the design, Mr. Wilson used parallel patterns and textures in the interior space. Both parts of the design also contain traditional oval eye forms or “ovoids” and split U forms: the former occurs in the eyes of the man and in the head and inner eye of the killer whale, and the latter occurs in the back areas of both figures.

Lyle Wilson, the artist, was born in 1955 at Butedale Cannery. He is a member of the Haisla-Kwakiutl language group and has lived most of his life in Kitimat. He develops contemporary concepts within the Northwest Coast style, yet his work is highly personalized. In presenting Northwest Coast design, he is greatly interested in previously unused media such as pencil drawings and etchings.

Lyle Wilson’s work is in the collections of the Burnaby Art Gallery, the Toronto Dominion Bank, Imperial Esso, the BC Provincial Museum, UBC’s Museum of Anthropology Art Education Collections, and the Canada Council Art Bank Collection. The latter honour makes Mr. Wilson one of the few Northwest Coast First Nation artists to have his work acquired by the Canada Council