Freda Diesing was a Haida artist from Prince Rupert, BC. She was given the Haida name Skil Kew Wat, ‘magical little woman’, a name that reflects the influence and power of her talent.
One of the first female carvers on the modern northwest coast, Freda began her carving career at the age of 42. She studied at the Vancouver School of Art and at the Gitanmaax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art at ‘Ksan Village.
In the 1960s, Diesing and a handful of other artists were responsible for the re-awakening of Northwest Coast art and culture. She worked with other master artists including Robert Davidson, Dempsey Bob, and Tony Hunt. In the 1980s, her work was included in the ground breaking exhibition “Legacy - Tradition and Innovation in Northwest Coast Indian Art”, assembled by the Royal British Columbia Museum, and exhibited internationally, bringing awareness and appreciation to her culture’s art and history to the world.
Diesing was an exceptional carver, teacher and mentor. Her students include many of the most acclaimed artists working in First Nations art today. She generously contributed many works of art to local communities.
In 2000, she was awarded an honorary diploma from Coast Mountain College (formerly Northwest Community College). In 2002, she received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award and an honorary doctorate from the University of Northern British Columbia.