Vina Brown is a Haíɫzaqv and Nuu-chah-nulth scholar. Her Haíɫzaqvḷa name is ƛ̓áqva gḷ́w̓a which means Copper Canoe. Vina discovered her passion for weaving and beading when she was a little girl. Her Haíɫzaqv Aunts' Contessa Brown and Shirley Brown along with other elders within the community would take her out cedar bark and plant harvesting from their traditional territory. From these experiences she was taught the Indigenous values of respect, knowledge, and reciprocity.
Vina's mother is Nuu-Chah-Nulth from the Ahousaht First Nation located on Vancouver Island, her late grandmother Elsie Robinson was a Master Nuu-Chah-Nulth weaver as was her Mother Mary Little (Vina's great-grandmother). Both women wove hundreds of basketry pieces over their life-times contributing immensely to the continuation of Nuu-Chah-Nulth art, culture, stories, history, and language. These women set the table for Vina's art and are her foundational inspiration. Vina shares:
"I remember watching my Granny Elsie weave for hours, she would sit in her rocking chair with sports on the radio or television. We would be playing on the floor beside her. I remember feeling at ease, at peace, and very content in those moments. I did not know it at the time but she was transferring knowledge, an experience with me. This is how we learned traditionally was by observing. Often times she would give me strips of cedar to weave with and make mats. These are some of the best memories of my childhood."
Vina and her partner Michael live with their two-year old son on the Lummi reservation in Bellingham Wa. They are dedicated as a family to the continuation of Indigenous world-views and ways of being through their work at Northwest Indian College and their commitment to Indigenous students.