Johnathan Henderson is a member of the Weiwaikum Band of Campbell River. He was born in Alert Bay, BC in 1969 to Sharon Whonnock and Chief Dan Henderson. As a child, Henderson had the opportunity to watch his grandfather, Sam Henderson, carve totem poles which led him to begin designing and carving on his own at the age of thirteen. When Henderson was initiated as a Hamatsa dancer, his father gave him the name Hak’hakya galis which translates to “man standing on the beach with his mouth open”.
In 1986, Henderson moved to Campbell River where he studied and learned more about the Kwakwaka’wakw art style from his father as well as his uncles, Mark and Bill Henderson. Henderson primarily works in red and yellow cedar. In addition to miniature totem poles, dishes, spoons and masks, he also specializes in original paintings and prints.
In 1991, after graduating from high school in Campbell River, Henderson attended Malaspina College where he received a certificate from the Professional Cook Training Program. In 1993, he started learning traditional Kwakwaka’wakw songs under the tutelage of Chief Frank Nelson.
From 1996 to 1999, Henderson carved at the Thunderbird Park carving shed, located on the Royal British Columbia Museum grounds in Victoria, where he raised a 25-foot totem pole with Sean Whonnock. The totem pole was dedicated to the Coast Salish people, of the Victoria area, on behalf of the Kwakwaka’wakw.