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editorial-iconBy contributor Tomi Lawson

VIU received a donation of two cedar trees from Western Forest Products (WFP), and they will be used as part of  a totem pole carving iniative.

The cedar trees were harvested in the Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nations territory.

Sherry McCarthy, VIU Students’ Union Chairperson and totem pole project manager, says, “The project was created as an opportunity to further make VIU a welcoming institution for Aboriginal learners.”

On March 16, the cedar trees were blessed during a traditional First Nations ceremony by members of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth people.

Sherry McCarthy, VIUSU Chairperson, and Qwaya Sam, a member of Ahousaht First Nation and one of the carvers in the totem pole project, take part in the blessing ceremony for two cedar trees donated by Western Forest Products. Photo by Shari Bishop Bowes
Sherry McCarthy, VIUSU Chairperson, and Qwaya Sam, a
member of Ahousaht First Nation and one of the carvers in
the totem pole project, take part in the blessing ceremony for
two cedar trees donated by Western Forest Products. Photo by Shari Bishop Bowes

McCarthy says, “By the end of the project there will be three poles, each one representing the nations in which VIU operates: the Coast Salish, the Kwakwaka wakw, and the Nuu-Chah-Nulth.”

According to McCarthy, Noel Brown, a Snuneymuzw carver, will be carving the Coast Salish totem pole. Qwaya Sam, from Ahousaht First Nation, will be carving the Nuu-Chah-Nulth totem pole. A carver has yet to be selected for the Kwakwaka wakw totem pole.

Each totem pole will be 30 feet tall when completed.

TimberWest and Island Timberlands have also donated cedar trees for this carving project.

The unveiling of the first two completed totem poles is expected later this spring. Everyone is welcome to watch the totem carving outside Shq’aphut.

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