REPORTING · 8th November 2014
Kitimat City Council saw a special presentation by Katherine Johnsen and Sheila Duncan from Mount Elizabeth Middle and Secondary School on Monday, October 27th at a Committee of the Whole Meeting.
Johnson explained they were two members of a school committee who came together to have a totem pole carved for the school by Nathan Wilson, a Haisla Artist raised in Prince Rupert.
“It is a way to recognize and observe and honour that we live on Haisla Terriroty and develop that sense of pride in our First Nations Youth and develop the relationships and the bridges between our two communities that will inspire teamwork and being together. That’s the premise of the pole” said Johnson.
She explained the pole was almost completed and it will stand almost 8’ when it is finished. At the time of the presentation, all that was needed to be done was the finishing touches on the eyes.
Duncan expressed the pole was supposed to represent team work. The concept picture was of a Raven and a Beaver. In the history of the Haisla Nation, when a feast was held, the Raven Clan and the Beaver Clan worked together.
“Those are the only two clans within our community who work together. Everyone else has their own clan. The Killer Whales have their own and the Eagles have their own, but the Beavers and Ravens do it together,” said Duncan.
With the pole almost complete, it is time to prepare for the celebration on November 20th. The celebration will be comprised of a feast which is for the entire student body, staff and support workers. The elementary schools will be coming as well.
“The project has been structured around an artist in residence framework, so the kids have been able to observe and interact. We’ve had tours and Nathan has taught and gone into classrooms and done teaching sessions in the tent while he was carving, so it’s been a really dynamic and awesome thing for our building and our students in all of our community,” said Johnson.
Johnson explained the reason they were coming before Council was because they were requesting money to give gifts for all of the guests. With three weeks left, they wish to order the gifts from Enigma.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff asked if the Parent Advisory Group has been approached to fund this part of the project. Johnson expressed they have not, and they tend to support extra-curricular clubs, and this is an educational piece. She said she will approach them.
Councillor Mary Murphy wanted to know if there was another project in the future. She was told there are plans for another pole to represent the other two clans.
Council was told how the ceremony would proceed in more detail.
Councillor Rob Goffinet made a motion to contribute $500 for the gifts. Councillor Mario Feldhoff expressed he was opposed to the motion without getting further information from staff. He was told it did not look like it fit with any policy they have.
The motion was called and carried.