The raising of a new totem pole later this year in Kitimat, on British Columbia’s North Coast could finally remove an irritant between the local First Nation and the district.
The current totem pole in Centennial Park is reaching the end of its life, but Haisla First Nation master carver Sammy Robinson says the pole wasn’t carved according to their customs.
Robinson says the pole tells the story of the region, when a monster flock of seagulls kept intruders out of the area during an important fishing season. He says the decades-old pole was commissioned when district officials had little knowledge of indigenous art and “everything about it is wrong,” including its uphill direction, facing away from the ocean.
Officials with the District of Kitimat say a Haisla carver will create a new pole, expected to be raised by October. The district is still deciding what to do with the old pole, but George MacDonald, an associate professor of anthropology at Simon Fraser University says its value should not be underestimated.
(With files from The Canadian Press)