Kitimat to Replace the Centennial Park Totem
The totem pole that crowns Kitimat's Centennial Park is going to be retired... not only due to its condition, but also in relation to its story.
According to Haisla Master Carver Sammy Robinson, Kitimat's Centennial Pole is meant to tell the story of the area;
"Oolichan time. So the monster was a flock of Seagulls.It'll go up like this then look like a mouth.So that's why the other people were scared to come here ."
But it wasn't made according to Haisla custom;
"It's not carved properly. It was a white guy named Stan Raugh that commissioned them to do it. They didn't know too much about Indian art. First of all, it's facing the wrong way. It's facing uphill, it's supposed to be always facing the water. Everything is wrong about it."
Now, Shaun O'Neill, Deputy Director of Kitimat Leisure Services, says the District of Kitimat is looking to replace it; with a Haisla pole commissioned by a local carver.
"We have two artists that have bid on the project, we're in the final stages of picking an artist who we will commission to do the work."
And the old pole will be laid to rest.
"We're looking right now, investigating right now how to properly put that pole to the end of its life, whether that may be to preserve it, or whatever… We just don't know at this point."
George MacDonald, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Simon Fraser University, says the old pole is a valuable piece of Northwestern history, and that its original carver, Doug Cranmer, went on to become a well-known Indigenous artist.
"I consider that to be one of the major pieces of North-West Coast art on the Coast today. So I suspect if the city does choose to sell it, they should look for something between about four and five hundred thousand dollars "
The final decision on the fate of the old pole will now go to City council… and the new pole is anticipated to be raised by October of this year.