Thursday, July 10, 2008

Spirit Pole ceremoney attracts enthusiastic participants

Tuesday's Spirit Pole arrival at the Civic Centre proved to be a popular thing as a large crowd of Rupertites gathered to carve their spot on the pole destined for Cowichan.

The Spirit Pole is destined for a place of honour at the North American Indigenous Games being held in Cowichan in August, having travelled across the province on its journey.

The Daily News featured details of the celebration at the Civic Centre as their front page story in Wednesday's paper.

Rupertites leave their mark on pole that will become a legacy for Indigenous Games
The Daily News
Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Pages one and two

Despite the rain, an enthusiastic crowd lined up at the civic centre yesterday for the chance to carve a little piece of history.

The Spirit Pole for the 2008 Cowichan North American Indigenous Games stopped in Rupert yesterday on its tour of more than 50 communities in British Columbia.

The public was invited out to put their own carving into the totem pole and various dignitaries, including Lieutenant Governor Steven Point, who was in town for the Elders Conference, attended the dedication ceremony.

"The Spirit Pole declares to everyone in this province that the First Nations are not only present, but their culture is still alive and they're passing on their culture to their children," said Point.

"It's so important to create peace and understanding between our cultural groups. Aboriginal people are reaching out and helping other people understand who we are. This is what this pole is doing."

Point then said that he was going to sing a song for the pole and picked up a drum. He then performed a traditional song that received an emotional reaction from the audience.

"I'm trying to hold back tears right now," said Spirit Pole tour co-ordinator Marek Tyler.
Carey Newman, lead carver for the pole, also said a few words to the crowd of mainly Elders in attendance.

"Today will be a reversal of roles. We've been teaching people to carve, but today, in this company, we'll be the ones doing the learning," he said. "As British Columbians, we celebrate diversity, but it is projects like this that will bring us together."

The 20-foot red cedar log was retrieved from Stanley Park, where it had been blown down in the windstorm that devastated a large part of the woodlands. The log will travel all over the province, being carved by the public along the way. It will be erected in Cowichan at the opening ceremony of the Games.

Louise Dangeli, and Elder from Kincolith was one of the first people to get a chance to carve the pole.

"It's quite an honour to carve the pole. I'm an artist, but I've never done this before," Dangeli said. "The smell of cedar is so powerful. It's a piece of us."

Dangeli was given the wood-shaving that she carved to keep in a special envelope, which she held tight to her chest.

"I'm to treasure it forever," she said. "I'll probably frame it."

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