Gerry was born in Merritt, B.C., April 13, 1964. His biggest influence was his older brother, Roger Swakium. He recalls having spent much of his time watching his brother carve. He credits watching the carving process as the biggest factor in his own success. Although born of Salish descent, Gerry has carved a variety of styles. He has been carving for over 17 years. He has carved makes, bowls, rattles, plaques and various sizes of totem poles.
In September of 1997, Gerry enrolled in a jewellery and design program at Vancouver Community College. This program has enabled him to use his wood carving designs to expand into jewellery making.
In 1998, Gerry worked and mentored youth in the Collingwood community creating public art. In four years, he completed four carvings; the Synala Totem Pole, the Multicultural Gateway, The Guardian of the Park and the Renfrew Park Eagle. All the carvings were done in the public with many people visiting the carving site and can be found throughout the Renfrew Collingwood Community.
In May of 1999, Gerry travelled to Long Island, NY, where he used the same form of teaching students to carve. The whole school was invited to help carve the 10-foot totem pole. The project was completed in three weeks and benefited all those involved.
In September 2000, Gerry worked with carvers from the Tsawwassen First Nation to carve a 20-foot totem pole. This totem pole now stands inside the Vancouver Community College Downtown campus.
Gerry has continuously grown as a carver. He is dedicated to creating a better piece than the one before. Talking the jewellery program shows that he wants to grow and expand all of his creative energy. He has also found that he enjoys working with youth and hope to do more projects with them.
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