Totem pole raised in front of student housing to further reconciliation

A chain is attached to a wooden totem pole in the process of raising it while people symbolically pull the pole up.
A totem pole has been raised at Coast Mountain College as an act of reconciliation. Photo by Morgyn Budden.
Morgyn Budden - CFNR - TerraceBC | 02-09-2022
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Members of the community gathered on Wednesday to witness the raising of a totem pole in front of a new student housing building at the Coast Mountain College (CMC) Terrace campus.

In 2018, the First Nation Council for CMC requested that the new student housing be constructed to reflect the traditional territory of the Laxghibuu (wolf) clan if Kitsumkalum on which it sits.

The Wii Gyemsiga Siwilaawksat was opened in October 2021 with eight other smaller totems hung in the building to represent other clans in the area such as the Laxsgiik (eagle),the Gisbutwada (killer whale), the Ganhada (raven), and the Ganhada sister clan the frog. 

Master carver Stan Bevan worked with a team of alumni from the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art to collaborate with the clan to design the pole.

Bevan explained that it displayed a yuuta (man) with a copper shield to represent wealth, an Ol (bear) which is the sister clan to the Laxghibuu which is above the Ol, and a sigidmna’ax (matriarch) on the top to represent wisdom.

A wood totem pole with the figures of a bear, a wolf, a man and a matriarch at the top

The standing totem pole. Photo by Morgyn Budden.

Though the addition of this pole wasn’t always part of the plan. It wasn’t until the CMC First Nations Council had requested it; that the plans started to reflect the traditional land. 

Salidiiks Mediik, whose English name is Don Wells, was master of ceremonies and talked about how the partnership that was formed to design the pole and other traditional elements in the building was proof that Canada can walk beside Indigenous people. 

Other members of the house echoed this sentiment, talking about this pole signifying one step closer to reconciliation.

Listen to the radio story below: