Black Rod makes historic visit

KITSUMKALUM WAS honoured with the first visit to a community of the lieutenant-governor's Black Rod last week

  • Oct. 15, 2013 5:00 a.m.

KITSUMKALUM WAS honoured with the first visit to a community of the lieutenant-governor’s Black Rod last week, in a celebration of it and former Kitsumkalum chief councillor Cliff Bolton, who carved the piece of jade on the symbolic icon.

“Kitsumkalum is the very first community to see the Black Rod. It has never left the legislature since it was introduced,” said former lieutenant-governor Steven Point Oct. 9 to the crowd at Kitsumkalum Hall.

Point told the story about how the Black Rod – a ceremonial baton used to knock on the door of the legislative chamber in order for the lieutenant-governor to receive permission to enter – came about.

After he became B.C.’s lieutenant-governor, the sergeant-at-arms, Gary Lenz, asked if he’d like to try on the old uniform of his position.

Point agreed and Lenz brought him the 40-pound jacket. He tried it on, and it fit.

He decided to wear it and became only the second provincial lieutenant governor to wear the traditional dress – the other province is Nova Scotia, he said.

“When I began to wear it, I began to get noticed,” he said. “Someone asked why I would want to wear it and I said ‘it’s part of our history.’”

The country’s history hasn’t always been pleasant as it sometimes brought injustice, he said, but nevertheless it’s our history.

Aboriginal people have a history connecting them to the Queen through the treaty process and the lieutenant-governor was instructed to protect the aboriginal people, said Point.

He also had another reason for wearing the traditional dress of the lieutenant-governor.

“I said ‘yes I do [want to wear the traditional dress] because I wanted to see the faces of those people who had never seen an Indian wear the lieutenant-governor’s dress before,”’ said Point.

“People love to see our history come alive as Canadians,” he said.

Lenz also wanted to help Point bring back to B.C. the tradition of using the Black Rod.

Up until then, the silver mace of the speaker was used to bring in the lieutenant governor who was the representative of the Queen.

“As aboriginal people, we understand history and tradition reminds us of history in the country,” he said, adding Lenz wanted aboriginal people involved in the making of the Black Rod.