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Pole raised at Kitselas Canyon

VOLUNTEERS help tie off a totem pole raised yesterday afternoon at the Kitselas Canyon National Historical Site. One of the helpers was Terrace mayor Dave Pernarowski. He
VOLUNTEERS help tie off a totem pole raised yesterday afternoon at the Kitselas Canyon National Historical Site. One of the helpers was Terrace mayor Dave Pernarowski. He's wearing the olive shirt and is at the base of the pole.
— image credit: STAFF PHOTO

A BRILLIANT sun shone down yesterday afternoon on a large crowd gathered to witness the raising of a totem pole at the Kitselas Canyon National Historic Site.

The dog salmon pole is the last of a series of poles to be raised outside of longhouses at the location.

Kitselas First Nations dignitaries, including chief councillor Judy Gerow and hereditary chief Mel Bevan, welcomed those who gathered.

Kitselas Canyon coordinator Web Bennett noted that while some people regard the poles as works of art, they are much more to the Kitselas people.

"They become a living monument to our history. They are who we are," said Bennett.

Upon his invitation, a group of men gathered to carry the pole, which had been placed inside a longhouse, to where it would be raised and secured against a sturdy iron brace embedded in a concrete base.

By custom, the men were handed woven cedar headbands.

Also by tradition, men of the eagle clan could not take part in the raising.

Muscles strained as the men first carried the pole on 4X4 beams and then used a rope and pulley to raise up the pole.

The pole depicts the story of a prince who is taken into the world of the spring salmon and who is then taught the protocol for harvesting salmon to ensure their continued return in the years after, said Bennett.

The pole design is based on an original pole that was located in the ancient village of Gitsaex.

Master carver Stan Bevan along with Kitselas carvers Darren Bolton​ and Brian McKee have been working steadily on the project since early spring.

A salmon barbecue followed and as if by design, an eagle circled over the gathering.

 

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