Born in 1976 to the son of Chief Dan Henderson, Kwakwaka’wakw artist Junior Henderson was given the hereditary chief name, Udzistalis. Junior’s traditional name, given to him by his late grandmother Mary Henderson, means “coppers all around” or “he has the value and esteem of coppers”. He was the Hereditary Chief of the Wei Wai Kum Band of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation from Campbell River, British Columbia. Junior has since passed along his chieftainship to his brother Johnathan Henderson.
Growing up in this culturally important community and artistic family, Junior was immersed in Kwakwaka’wakw traditions from a very young age. He was initiated into the Hamatsa society at the age of two and has been dancing traditionally ever since
Junior comes from a family rich with artistic talent, including his grandfather Chief Sam Henderson, and uncles Mark Henderson and Bill Henderson, all considered to be Master Carvers. His father Chief Dan Henderson is also an artist, painter, cultural historian and storyteller. Junior began apprenticing at the age of 12, first with his uncle Mark to study design and painting, and later at age 15 he studied carving with Bill. His work is inspired by those he apprenticed with, his brother Johnathan, his cousin Tom Hunt and fellow Kwakwaka’wakw artist Willie Seaweed.
Junior Henderson has developed his style to become an exceptional carver, a tireless support of his Indigenous community, and like his father Chief Dan Henderson, a significant cultural bearer for his people. Henderson has a special love for carving because of the vital role it plays in potlatches and in the Kwakwaka’wakw culture. His artwork and cultural contributions play an important role in Campbell River’s traditional life, especially through his singing, dancing and mentoring work.