Artist Joe Mandur conceived of the tribute pole to master carver Freda Diesing in 2005. In 3.5 years of actual carving, more than 2,700 people have participated in the pole’s creation. Here, Mandur is pictured with a scale-model sitting atop the 12-metre pole under construction.

Carver seeks assistance of remaining 1,300

Joe Mandur’s community totem pole now in fourth year of carving

As the new year dawns, Terrace carver Joe Mandur is 2,700 steps closer to completing his long-running, much-talked-about, epic community-built totem pole.

In late 2005 Mandur conceived his vision of having 4,000 people help him carve a 12-metre red cedar totem pole in honour of his late mentor, master carver Freda Diesing.

Since work began in his Kitsumkalum Canyon studio years ago, hundreds of Terracites have dropped by to hammer out a few chips. Now half way through the fourth year of actual carving, Mandur wanted to thank the community for its support and invite the few uninitiated to help finish the job.

“The project is based on all these people coming for Freda, to honour her as continuing to be a teacher, even though she’s passed,” he said

One of the first female carvers, Freda Diesing was a master in her craft and is regarded today as key figure in the reclamation and re-awakening of Haida culture. She passed away in 2002.

“I’ve had about 50 teachers, and Freda was one of the ones I’m most grateful to,” Mandur said. “[She] changed my life and I think everyone who comes and carves on the pole, it will change their life too in a way.”

Everyone is welcome, he added, saying the youngest so far was just seven months old, and the oldest 99 years.

Read more: Artist’s print to raise money for salmon conservation

Mandur arrived at the number of 4,000 co-carvers to ensure all area school children would have the chance to participate. But as the project whittled into shape, word of the carving began spreading well beyond the Northwest to great interest of provincial, national and then international audiences. A guest book, swollen with signatures, lists the wide-ranging backgrounds of participants, from common residents to acclaimed artists, tourists to politicians and spiritual leaders to renowned human rights champions.

Read more: Carvings will be used to help promote First Nations tourism

While no work yet has been made on the aesthetic face of the pole, the back and core have been completely carved out. It’s a crucial phase amounting to one-third of the overall work to prevent the pole from splitting. Both sides are smooth to the touch, and only six inches of rough wood along the length remain to be carved off the front. Only then can Mandur begin the diligent work of carving the actual imagery into the pole, before finally deciding on a place to see it raised.

“From the bottom of my heart, it’s a beautiful thing that all these people came,” Mandur said. “Now I’m putting out the call for the last 1,300.”

Mandur began carving in 1979 and was formally adopted by a Haida family in 2000. To participate in the project, call Joe Mandur at 250-635-1864 to arrange a time.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Spirit North funding annoucement now expected any day

Indigenous Services Canada annouces new timeline for funding annoucement

Kitwanga inches closer to ambulance station goal

This year’s Humpy Run raises close to $20,000

Anglers furious over VIP fishing trip

DFO, SkeenaWild both investigating legality of FN research licence to fishing party

Kool-Aid Man bails on Terrace and Kitimat mayoral race

Says he has accomplished goal of raising electoral awareness

Terrace Northmen earn third place in rugby provincials

The two-time reigning champs took home the bronze medals this year

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

Kim agrees to dismantle main nuke site if US takes steps too

Kim promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon.

Dozens speak at Vancouver hearing that could see duplexes replace single homes

The city clerk says 73 people signed up to speak at the hearing that began early Tuesday evening and adjourned hours later with 34 speakers still waiting.

North Carolina gov pleads with storm evacuees to be patient

The death toll rose to at least 37 in three states Tuesday, with 27 fatalities in North Carolina.

North and South Korea say they plan to bid for 2032 Olympics

Moon and Kim announced a sweeping set of agreements including a vow to work together to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.

Russia’s reinstatement after doping scandal goes to a vote

The World Anti-Doping Agency is due to vote Thursday Sept. 20, 2018, on possible reinstatement of Russia.

Ontario wins stay on ruling that struck down council-cutting plan

The province had argued the stay was necessary to eliminate uncertainty surrounding the Oct. 22 vote, and the Court of Appeal agreed.

B.C. cannabis producer Tilray hits at $20-billion high as stock price explodes

This is the first export of a cannabis product from a Canadian company to the U.S.

NDP tax increases adding up for B.C. residents: study

Carole James says Fraser Institute analysis ignores tax relief

Most Read