New totem poles erected outside Vancouver School Board headquarters

Jun 24 2019, 4:02 am

Three totem poles carved by local Indigenous peoples have been erected outside the front entrance of the Vancouver School Board’s (VSB) headquarters in Fairview.

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On Friday, celebrating National Peoples Indigenous Day, the VSB unveiled a 44-tall reconciliation pole and two shorter welcoming figure poles, measuring a height of 20 ft and 17 ft, at the northeast corner of the intersection of West 10th Avenue and Fir Street.

The permanent installations were created by artists representing the three local First Nations — Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh — and carved out of 300 to 500-year-old red cedar logs.

Vancouver School Board totem poles

New totem poles outside the Vancouver School Board headquarters. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

“With the installation of these three poles we acknowledge the important role that indigenous culture plays in this District,” said Suzanne Hoffman, Vancouver School District Superintendent, in a statement.

“They symbolize decolonizing the grounds of the Education Centre and act as a physical reminder to the district’s commitment to truth and reconciliation.”

Vancouver School Board totem poles

New totem poles outside the Vancouver School Board headquarters. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

The tallest of the poles is intended to “unite everyone,” while the two welcoming figures — one male and one female — recognizes the balance of both genders and the school district’s commitment to equity and inclusion.

The school district says over 1,500 students visited the artists during the carving process to learn more about the process of creating a totem pole, the significance of the symbols on the poles, and the meaning behind reconciliation.

Vancouver School Board totem poles

Vancouver School Board totem poles description. Click on the image for an enlarged version. (Vancouver School Board)

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