800-year-old tree to become UN project totem at B.C. university

Pole to be raised in recognition of the UN 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages

Master Nuu-Chah-Nulth carver Tim Paul (Left) and Edward Johnson Jr., program manager for Huu-ay-aht First Nation, stood near an 800-year-old felled tree near Bamfield. Paul will carve the tree into a new Language Revitalization Pole for the UN 2019 Year of Indigenous languages (File Contributed/First Nations Education Foundation)

Master Nuu-Chah-Nulth carver Tim Paul (Left) and Edward Johnson Jr., program manager for Huu-ay-aht First Nation, stood near an 800-year-old felled tree near Bamfield. Paul will carve the tree into a new Language Revitalization Pole for the UN 2019 Year of Indigenous languages (File Contributed/First Nations Education Foundation)

An 800-year-old tree that’s been lying in the woods near Bamfield for over 50 years will now get a second life as a part of a UN project.

The Huu-ay-aht People gifted the 40,000-pound red cedar to the First Nations Education Foundation (FNEF). It will be taken to Port Alberni and carved by master carver, Tim Paul, into a Language Revitalization Pole in recognition of the UN 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages. Upon completion, the pole will be moved to a prominent site at the University of Victoria.

READ MORE: Exploring First Nation languages in B.C.

The entire moving and carving process – including story telling, teaching and community involvement – will be documented in photo and film. This footage will be used in tool kits for distribution to the 11,000 UNESCO Associated School Network in over 180 countries to teach people about Indigenous culture and language.

ALSO READ: B.C. teen creating app, summer camp to revive First Nations language

“Recording, filming and documenting the language and stories… it was never that easy for our people. That’s not the way the Indigenous people were, ” said Les Doiron, chief executive officer of the FNEF and elected president of the Yuułuʔiłʔath Government (the Ucluelet First Nation). “There are threats facing Indigenous languages around the world, and there’s an urgent need to advance reconciliation and to preserve and promote language and culture through innovative solutions.”

An outline of the Language Revitalization Pole shows eight of the 11 Nuu-Chah-Nulth relatives who will be present on the pole. (File contributed/ FNEF)

Doiron said the First Nations peoples of the West Coast were always visual story tellers, and that totems are traditionally sacred additions to the family.

“A totem tells a story, you erect it and it’s there for the world to see and view,” Doiron said. “This pole will not only help bring a shift the Canadian mindset, but be available whether you’re a student at UVic or a tourist traveling to see it.”

ALSO READ: Aboriginal speech language pathologist helps Vancouver Island kids

Nuu-chah-nulth artist Tim Paul has chosen stories and themes which help explain the bonds between language and art. It will encompass 10 relatives of the Nuu-chah-nulth people: the sky, sun, moon, mountains, rivers, lakes, land, sea, wind and stars.

“He will also add an eleventh relative: the earthquake, sent to teach humility and remind human beings of the all-encompassing power of the Creator,” Doiron said.

The Language Revitalization Pole will stand 70 feet tall when complete, with a target completion date of November 2019.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

First NationsUVic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School in Hazelton is being shut down for a week by the Gitanmaax Band Council following a confirmation of a COVID-19 exposure there on Feb. 26. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Hazelton school COVID-19 closure extended one week

With spring break on horizon, Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary will be closed to end of March

There were 31 new COVID-19 cases in the Terrace local health area during the week of Feb. 21 to Feb. 27, 2021. (BC Centre for Disease Control)
Northwest B.C. remains a COVID-19 hot spot

There were 31 new cases reported in the Terrace local health area between Feb. 21 and Feb. 27

Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs president and Grand Chief Stweart Phillip speaking at a rally with chiefs from around B.C. outside of the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in 2019. The UBCIC said in an open letter to Terrace city council that it was “heartbroken” to hear about the situation. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs ‘heartbroken’ by McCallum-Miller resignation

Terrace’s first Indigenous councillor resigned Feb. 22, alleging systemic racism

Terrace RCMP found gloves containing suspected methamphetamine and purple fentanyl following a traffic stop on the afternoon of March 2, 2021. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace RCMP seize suspected methamphetamine, fentanyl following traffic stop

Police observed passenger of the vehicle trying to hide bags of white substance between their legs

General voting day for the Terrace trustee by-election is Saturday, March 6 at the Terrace Sportsplex Multipurpose Room from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Black Press file photo)
Terrace trustee by-election: Meet the candidates

General voting day is March 6 at the Terrace Sportsplex Multipurpose Room from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Shiromali Krishnaraj arrives from India and receives a mandatory COVID-19 test at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. B.C.’s approved rapid tests also use a nasal swab, with a machine to scan for COVID-19 antibodies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s rapid COVID-19 tests have produced only two positive results

Tests deployed for exposures in schools, outbreaks in care homes, jails

BC Emergency Health Services confirmed that a call was received just before 10 a.m. Ground paramedics, as well as an air ambulance, are on the way to the area. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BREAKING: Helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

The Nanaimo bar display at the Nanaimo Museum. (City of Nanaimo Instagram)
City of Nanaimo points to correct recipe after New York Times botches batch of bars

City addresses ‘controversy’ around dessert square’s layers

A man holds a picture of Chantel Moore during a healing gathering at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. First Nation demands transparency in probe into second fatal RCMP shooting

‘Police have killed more Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members than COVID’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of dead B.C. Hells Angels prospect to be divided between wife, secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Most Read