Friendship totem turns 25

Groups celebrate the 25th anniversary of a totem pole raising in the city while remembering the man who gave the pole to the city.

THE CITY, Kitsumkalum, Kitselas and the RCMP celebrated the 25th anniversary of a totem pole raising in the city while remembering the man who gave the pole to the city.

Cliff Bolton, who was Kitsumkalum chief councillor in 1987 when the pole was erected in front of the Terrace RCMP detachment during the August long weekend, said at the time that it was the beginning of a friendship between Kitsumkalum and the city, as he believed they should work together for the progress of the area.

That same weekend, two totem poles were also put up at Kitsumkalum – it was the first totem pole raising in 150 years on the reserve and the first time two poles were raised at the same time. Bolton, a well-known carver, died in April of this year.

Terrace RCMP inspector Dana Hart said he was privileged to meet Bolton, as it was “one of those moments in life that had an impact. He was truly a remarkable man, who wanted all of us in the community to work together,” said Hart, pausing partway through as he teared up while speaking.

Bolton’s sister and Kitsumkalum elder and matriarch Shirley Bolan remembered how the totem pole raising helped “break down the fear of the RCMP ingrained in us since childhood.” The giving of the totem pole was a new beginning.

Terrace city councillor Marylin Davies, who was at the totem pole gifting 25 years ago, said the city and Kitsumkalum have developed a friendship they can be proud of. Examples of that are the two communities working together for economic development, the CN project and the BC Summer Games, she said.

“Now we do what 25 years ago seemed impossible, we share socially, Aboriginal Days, and celebrate events in the best hall in town at Kitsumkalum,” said Davies.

Gerald Wesley, Bolton’s nephew, stood in for current Kitsumkalum chief councillor Don Roberts, who couldn’t attend the celebration. He talked about the meaning of the symbols carved on the totem pole: at the top is a robin signifying the people of Kitsumkalum; in the middle is the eagle; and at the bottom is the killer whale, the clan most of Kitsumkalum belong to, he said. Master carver, the late Freda Diesing worked on the totem, along with several carvers, he said.

Kitselas chief councillor Judy Gerow also honoured Bolton. “He was quite an individual. He had a lot of vision for his people, and was very forward thinking,” she said.

BC RCMP chief superintendent Rod Booth said the totem poles signified two priorities: everyone working together to ensure we have peace in our daily lives and that we continue to work together.

He then presented gifts on behalf of the RCMP to Bolan and Vera Dudoward, matriarch of the Laxgyibuu Territory. Terrace mayor Dave Pernarowski presented gifts from the city to Wesley and Gerow.