Carvers representing three Vancouver Island First Nations have been selected to create two totem poles to grace the entrance of Shq’aphut, the Aboriginal Gathering Place at Vancouver Island University.
The four carvers who will begin their work on donated logs are George Hunt Jr. (Kwakwaka’wakw), Qwaya Sam (Ahousaht First Nation), Noel Brown (Snuneymuxw) and Thomas Jones (Snuneymuxw).
The totem pole project was initiated by Sherry McCarthy, VIU Students’ Union chairwoman.
“This is an opportunity to indigenize this space on campus and to claim space for aboriginal students so they feel welcome here in this territory,” McCarthy said.
“As VIU operates in the tribal territories of the Kwakwaka’wakw, the Coast Salish and the Nuu-chah-nulth, it is important to feature the work of artists from these territories in the project.”
The $50,000 budget for the project includes the students’ union’s contribution of $25,000, which was matched by VIU, with other contributions coming from the VIU Faculty Association, the City of Nanaimo, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and the Métis Association of B.C. Students continue to fundraise for a third totem pole.
When the logs arrive on site later this spring, carving will begin under tents located next to Shq’apthut. McCarthy said students and the public will have the chance to view the carving underway through the summer, with an expected completion of late October.