B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Three First Nations in B.C. gathered Friday to raise a restored replica totem pole at a Canada-U.S. border crossing — a decade after it was removed by the province without notice.

The Semiahmoo, Kwakwaka’wakw and Haida nations say the pole symbolizing the grizzly bear was raised near the Peace Arch crossing in the 1950s but taken down without consultation in 2008 to make way for a new tourism centre.

Members of the three nations held a ceremony at Peace Arch Provincial Park and said the removal of the pole was undignified and ignored their traditions.

However, its position at the Canada-U.S. border now sends an important message to visitors about three First Nations standing together, they said.

They also recognized deceased carver Mungo Martin, a Kwakwaka’wakw artist and leader, for creating the pole, which was commissioned by the Royal British Columbia Museum and based on a pole in the Haida Gwaii community of Skidegate.

Premier John Horgan said a “historic wrong” was committed, and the raising of the pole on Semiahmoo traditional territory a decade after its removal represents part of the reconciliation process with First Nations.

“There was no ceremony when the pole first went up, there was no respect when the pole was brought down, and on behalf of the province of British Columbia I want to apologize to all of those who were involved,” he said.

Horgan said he will make a formal statement when the legislature reconvenes in the fall.

He credited Coun. Joanne Charles of the Semiahmoo First Nation for bringing the issue to the government and making the raising of the pole possible.

Charles told those attending the ceremony that when she heard the pole had been “ripped out from it base,” she started what turned out to be a 10-year process to get it back to the area, with help from others including her mother and aunt as they persevered to press the province into action.

“It’s a beautiful day for me, a long journey of work,” she said.

“We’re going to reconcile what happened and we’re going to celebrate by having a proper raising of the pole, which never happened in the ’50s,” Charles said, adding people in her territory became caretakers of the pole that was ”waiting for this day to happen.”

Martin’s family, including his great grandson David Mungo Knox, who is also a carver and a hereditary chief, were among those who attended the ceremony of singing, dancing and drumming.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Kelowna boy returns to school after recovering from possible Xanax OD

RCMP investigation found the drug to be a form of benzodiazepine, commonly known as Valium or Xanax

RCMP seeking assistance to locate missing West Kelowna resident

Kasey-Anne Balaberda was reported missing on Sept. 15

Renovations underway for Tim Hortons at Kelowna International Airport

The Tim’s will remain open through the renovations but with a reduced menu

Kelowna man sentenced to 35 years for the murder of wife and daughters

This marks the first time in B.C. that consecutive sentences will be handed down for somebody convicted of multiple murders

Man cycles across B.C. Interior for sobriety

Vancouver Island Resident Matt Fee is approaching the final phase of his cross-Canada bike journey to raise awareness about addiction recovery.

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

Facebook group forms committee against Thompson Nicola R.V. crackdown

Group discusses issues with regional R.V. bylaw at recent meeting

Free Tesla 3 offered with purchase of Surrey townhome

Century Group’s offer for Viridian development runs through Oct. 31

Most Read