Camosun College celebrates 50th anniversary with House Post created by Indigenous alumni

Camosun College marked its 50th birthday with the unveiling of the Cycle of Knowledge House Post at its Interurban Campus.

The 18-foot-tall, 1,100-kilogram post was crafted by Tsawout First Nation member and W̱SÁNEĆ artist Bear Horne. As an alumni of the college’s First Nations program, Horne says the post was inspired by his time as a student at Camosun College.

"I learned a lot and I met a lot of really great people, and I carried those things on with me after I was done here," said Horne.

"I wanted to create a piece that put a little of what I learned here and all the things that I brought with me after."

Horne says House Posts have a significant role in W̱SÁNEĆ culture.

"It represents strength and would traditionally hold up our long houses," said Horne. "It stands a symbol of strength to our people."

Horne says the House Post reflects the connection between Camosun and Indigenous communities. He adds that he used traditional cedar carvings mounted on aluminum and bordered by silhouettes of waves as a representation of the transfer of knowledge and energy between students and faculty at the college.

"The piece at the top is the sun and it's significant because it represents the students here at Camosun and their energy and vibrancy," said Horne.

"The heron represents the patience that the students and the teachers bring with them while they are here," he said.

At the base of the House Post is a cedar disc carved by Horne depicting two salmon circling a salmon egg. He says the symbolism of the circle is a very significant element of the piece.

"The salmon in the circle and the egg in the middle represent all of the knowledge that is transferred between communities and bringing it back and sharing that knowledge with your people," he explained.

"Eventually some of those students become teachers here and transfer that knowledge to other students."

Camosun College opened its doors as a post-secondary institution to 980 registered students five decades ago on Sept. 16, 1971. Since then, the college’s Lansdowne and Interurban campuses have grown to more than 16,000 students a year.

The Cycle of Knowledge House Post stands outside the Centre for Trades and Education building as a welcome to students, faculty and visitors to Camosun’s Interurban Campus.

"The House Post tells the story of current and future students," said Camosun College president Sherri Bell.

"We wanted to have a representation of the meaning of Camosun College (and) the connection to our Indigenous communities as you come on campus."

From its humble beginnings in 1971, the college has grown to offer more than 160 academic classes, applied learning programs, trades training and education in health and human services. Camosun also offers technologies training and Indigenous education.

"We are proud of our student-centred approach to delivering decades of education for the benefit of our students and communities," said Bell.

"The Cycle of Knowledge House Post will serve as a welcome to students, staff and visitors while reflecting on the ongoing commitment to creating lasting relationships with Indigenous communities and peoples in the years to come," she said.