Maffeo Sutton Park’s Spirit Square is one location being considered as the site of a new welcome pole. (News Bulletin photo)

Maffeo Sutton Park’s Spirit Square is one location being considered as the site of a new welcome pole. (News Bulletin photo)

Welcoming totem pole coming to Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton Park

Project being done with support of Snuneymuxw First Nation, Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre

A new 50-foot totem pole is coming to Maffeo Sutton Park.

At their most recent finance and audit committee meeting, Nanaimo city councillors voted unanimously to allocate $50,000 from the 2020 and 2021 public art budget on a new welcome pole to be installed at the park.

The project is being done in collaboration with Snuneymuxw First Nation and the Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre, which is contributing $42,000 from a Canadian Heritage grant, as well as a 50-foot cedar log from Mosaic Forest Management valued at more than $5,000.

“I’m very happy to see this moving forward,” Coun. Don Bonner said at the meeting. “I hope that it’s one of many poles that we’ll be putting up in the near future.”

Carver Noel Brown of Snuneymuxw and Kwagulth First Nations has been selected as lead artist. A professional carver for the last 25 years, Brown has work on display at the Nanaimo Museum, Vancouver Island University and the Departure Bay ferry and Nanaimo cruise ship terminals. His designs are also a part of the new inclusive playground at Maffeo Sutton Park.

In a letter of support, Snuneymuxw executive director Joan Brown said the pole’s design theme will be “a reflection of the reconciliation process that is currently underway in our communities.”

The exact site for the pole has yet to be chosen, but a City of Nanaimo staff report indicated Maffeo Sutton Park’s Spirit Square, location of the Breaching Orca sculpture, is being considered. The report added that the project is expected to take up to six months to complete with an unveiling tentatively scheduled for June 21, National Indigenous People’s Day.

“This project has the potential to be a significant and exciting community collaboration that strengthens relationships, opens up new dialogue and opportunities for storytelling and adds in a significant way to the park,” said culture and events manager Julie Bevan in her address to councillors.

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