100 Mile Elementary’s entranceway is now under the watchful eyes of two wolves.
On Wednesday, Sept. 27, Spirit Carver Dean Gilpin donated a freshly carved wooden wolf to the school, providing a mate for one he previously donated and is already welcoming students and visitors to the school. The striking wolf, carved from Western red cedar donated by Pioneer Log Homes, was finished in a few days and includes a message of welcome and encouragement for students.
“This guy here is a solid watcher, he’s going to take care of everything. He doesn’t mess around,” Gilpin said. “It gives me the energy I’ve done something that provides value to the youth. On the carving, it says ‘You are great’ and that’s a phrase a kid is going to read as they walk by and it will go right into their brain. That’s perfect.”
The new piece will go on the corner of the wall beside the other carving, linking the two together. Like the main carving, Gilpin said he carved the new wolf at the request of 100 Mile’s Indigenous support worker, Penny Reid.
“I was pretty shocked when he showed up with a totally finished piece for us. It makes my heart happy and it’s hard for anyone in the school not to walk past the pieces, touch them and feel their magic,” Reid said.
In addition to donating the carving, Gilpin spent the day at the school showing students how he turns pieces of wood into works of art. Gilpin said he was just doing a couple of rough “sketches” using small pieces of wood, with his main goal being to inspire his audience.
“I’m so glad to come here regularly. The questions (they ask) are great,” Gilpin said. “The enthusiasm of the children is what really gets me going because the questions they ask are super smart to ask.”
Reid said the school is always happy to invite Gilpin, especially around National Truth and Reconciliation Day.
“Dean has come out three years now and he’s just really an inspiration to the kids. He talks about getting on the right path, following your dreams and working hard at what you love,” Reid said.
Gilpin has been chainsaw carving for the last five years, when not building houses for Williams Lake-based Pioneer Log Homes. His employer will often let him take cast-offs from their projects, which he’ll turn into sculptures of various animals.
“I find (a design) that will fit inside the wood and I work around that. Everything moves itself into position and that’s how I work,” Gilpin said. “The manpower and labour after that is just what needs to happen.”
When asked if he’ll be adding any more additions to the school Gilpin said it will depend on what the school wants. However, he’d be open to doing an entranceway for the school next year, if asked.