Meet Chief Terry Horne, the Artist Creating a Stó:lō House Post for the Chilliwack YMCA

Chilliwack YMCA house-post by Chief Terry Horne

Chief Terry HorneOver the past few months, we’ve had the honour of working with some incredible people to bring the new Chilliwack YMCA to life. One such person is Chief Terry Horne of the Yakweakwioose First Nation in Chilliwack, BC. He carries the ancestral name of Siyemches, a name passed down to him by his grandfather, Frank Malloway. 

Chief Horne is also a talented Coast Salish artist with over 20 years of experience. His artwork has been exhibited in countries around the world in numerous galleries. His preferred artistic medium is wood, mainly red cedar, from which he carves house posts, totem poles and masks.

He is currently carving a house post for the Chilliwack YMCA. Read our interview with Chief Horne to learn more about the significance of the house post, as well as the artist himself.

12 Questions with Chief Terry Horne

1. What is the symbolism and/or role of the house post in the Stó:lō culture and legacy?

House posts, traditionally, were structural supports in our longhouses. The house posts told stories and also family history.  

2. Can you tell us more about what each of the house post’s elements that you have designed symbolize?

The overall theme of this piece would be best described as a balance. The front depicts a sun in the centre with salmon emerging from the region and eagles at each end. In the wings of the eagles are the faces of their young. To the Stó:lō, salmon are an integral part of our survival over many generations and are deeply respected; the concept reflects a thriving ecosystem, or even a thriving community.  

The back part stems from this theme of balance that is created in the front with a thriving community. It consists of four spirit faces that are mirrored from the centre of the post. The four faces represent the four directions, the four seasons, the four elements. Four is a sacred number in our culture. The colours are the same colours in the medicine wheel, which offers a sense of healing. 

The side view has a circle in the centre with crescents radiating from it all along the 6” wide edge. This design with the circles and crescents represents, in this case, the good effects that an organization like the YMCA has in communities. The circle, as simple as it may be, represents the YMCA and the crescents represent its effects felt through communities over the generations. This design would appear on both sides of the house post. 

3. When you first started on this project, what was your inspiration and your vision for it?

When I first started designing this house post, I drew inspiration from the YMCA’s mission statement. My vision was to reflect the mission statement; most notably, strengthening the community foundation. 

4. Approximately how tall and wide is the house post?

The overall dimensions of the house post would be 7 feet tall, 2 feet wide, and a depth of 12 inches. Although the depth is 12 inches in the centre, it would be rounded down to 6 inches at the sides where the circles and crescents would be.

5. Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Chilliwack but lived in Saanich for a couple years. I am passionate about art, obviously, but I am also passionate about my role in leadership within my community of Yakweakwioose and others. I also spend summer months racing war canoes throughout Coast Salish territory.

6. What really matters to you?

Family matters the most to me.

7. Have you always known that you wanted to be an artist? What led you down this career path?

I have always known that I was going to be an artist, I grew up in a large family of carvers and artists on my father’s side. As long as I can remember, I have always excelled at art.

8. Do you prefer wood over other mediums? If yes, why?  

I prefer wood because that is what I know. I have spent over 20 years mastering the craft of wood carving. There is always the possibility of expanding my knowledge but for now I will stick with carving wood.

9. What motivated you to take on this project for the Chilliwack YMCA?

Anytime there is an opportunity to publicly represent the Stó:lō by way of art, I try to seize it. There was a time when you wouldn’t really know that Chilliwack has a strong indigenous community—that is slowly changing. Art is one way to express our culture and show our presence. The YMCA has strong roots in building a healthy community, which reflects Stó:lō values as well.

10. Has the YMCA made a difference in your life? If so, in what way?  

I can always recall the YMCA swimming experiences since childhood and even into my children’s lives. I look forward to building more of a relationship with the Chilliwack YMCA and my own community.

11. In what way have you seen the Y’s impact in the Chilliwack community? Why do you believe the YMCA is important?

I have not personally seen the Y’s impact in the Chilliwack community yet but, I have only been in leadership a short time and I will be looking at building more relationships with the Y in the near future. I believe that the Y will help in strengthening families through programs and services offered at the newly renovated building.

12. At the Y, we have four values that guide our decisions and behaviour. They are: doing the right thing, putting people first, keeping our promises and leading by example. Do any of our values speak to you? And if yes, how so?

I would say that they all speak to me. I believe that the values are fundamental aspects in building strong relationships, communities and leaders.