Thursday, June 18, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The raising of a much anticipated totem pole at Metlakatla, CityWest offers up their side of the story and a death in the downtown area, all the featured items of the Wednesday Daily News.

HISTORIC TOTEM POLE RAISING TO COINCIDE WITH ABORIGINAL DAY-- Wednesday's paper outlined the hard work and long process leading up to next week's Totem Pole raising at Metlakatla. The first totem pole in the community to be raised in over 160 years will be the featured event during the celebration of Aboriginal Day across the harbour. The background of the community and of the pole's creator was featured as the front page, headline story (see story below)

The homicide of Third Avenue was included as an item in the Wednesday paper, as the Daily recounted much of the facts of the case that have been reported from numerous sources over the course of the news cycle on the incident.

City West no doubt feeling a bit of the pressure from the community over the spotty cel phone service of late, offered up a review of some of the infrastructure problems that have plagued the cellular system over the last week or so. We feature that background piece elsewhere in our blog (see item here)

The Sports pages featured a review of the Seafest Canoe races and a preview of the Men's Jubilee as well as an outline of an upcoming basketball camp at PRSS this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Total pages in the Wednesday edition (16)

Front page, headline story:

The Daily News
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Pages one and three

In the community of Metlakatla, B.C., National Aboriginal Day will be marked by the historic raising of the first totem pole in the community in more than 160 years.

Metlakatla was founded in 1862 as a utopian Christian community by lay missionary William Duncan and some of his native followers from Fort Simpson.

The site had been a traditional winter village for the Tshimshian tribes and was suggested to Duncan by the natives as an ideal location for establishing a new village.

With the exception of four poles that were carved by Neeslaranos in Reverend Duncan's time and installed in the large cathedral built by the natives in Metlakatla. there haven't been any other poles there.

In July 1901, the church was destroyed by fire.

Master carver Mike Epp who has created e 21-foot totem pole, said he has seen two photographs of the old totem poles.

Not wanting to give too much away about the pole he's carved before Sunday’s raising, he divulged that it does represent the four crests, - raven, eagle, wolf and killer whale.

The pole has been carved from a red cedar that Charlie Auckland of Metlkatla brought home in 2006 from Big Bay.

It sat on the beach for about a year before Epp began working on it. He completed the pole in September 2008.

"Everybody's really excited," Epp said. "It's been sitting inside the shed waiting patiently."

A member of the Gitlaan tribe and raven clan, the 46-year-old Epp born down south and raised there but returned to Metlakatla, where his mother was born when he was 18.

Over the years he's worked in Vancouver as an artist but spent the most of his time over the last four years, living in Metlakatla.

Epp has carved several poles commercially that are located in different parts all over the world.

"I hear a little bit about where they go. One of them was in the White House," he said.

At.Metlakatla the pole will be. raised in front of the administration building, explained Epp.

"In the old days you could see a pole from a distance and identify what tribe it was."

As a small boy, Epp began carving under the mentorship of his grandfather George Ryan, learning to carve spoons and halibut hooks.

He has seen a couple of old photographs showing four totem poles that were located in the church.

With less than a week to go until the big day, community wellness coordinator Fanny Nelson said she thought she'd be nervous but her excitement has taken over.

Nelson has lived in Metlkatla all her life and said she has witnessed so much destruction from alcohol and drugs.

Over the last 23 years she has worked in the community helping to restore the culture.

"It has been one of our dreams forever," Nelson said of the pole raising.

As a drug and alcohol counsellor I'm using cultural activities with our people to make changes. We're using dance, basket weaving, regalia and drum making with funds from the Anglican Church Healing Foundation," Nelson added.

The community has had a talking stick, she explained, but it can't be used because it's the shadow of the totem pole.

"When the pole is raised we'll be able to use it," she added.

Transportation to Metlakatla will be provided with ferry service beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Metlakatla ferry dock. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m., followed by a feast.

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