Harry Dawson was born in 1945 in Alert Bay, British Columbia. He was born to Louisa and Frank Dawson and is one of twelve children. His tribal affiliation is Kwakwaka’wakw and his family crest is the Goat.
Harry Dawson grew up in Kingcome Inlet immersed in the Kwakwaka’wakw traditions including the Kwak’wala language –he did not learn to speak English until he was six years old. By observing elders doing traditional dances in the Potlatch ceremonies, Harry Dawson learned the traditional songs and dances of his family and culture.
In his earlier days, Harry Dawson worked as a tree-planter, logger, seiner, gill-netter, fisherman and clam digger. Moving to Vancouver to continue his education, Harry Dawson remained in the Lower Mainland where he eventually was able to pursue carving full time. In recent years he has devoted himself to creating traditional designs in jewellery. He creates bracelets, earrings, brooches and pendants out of silver and gold.
Every year he carves a gold bracelet for the Salmon Foundation. Harry Dawson is also a painter, applying this medium to prints, drums and carvings. The Totem Pole in Kingcome Inlet is one of the poles he has work upon.
Over the years Harry Dawson has worked with and learned from Chief Frank Nelson, Paddy Seaweed and Dennis Matilpi. Since Expo 86’ he has also work with his nephew, noted carver, Simon Dick James. Since that time he has done work for Gino Odjeck and Pavel Bure.