Master Nuu-Chah-Nulth carver Tim Paul (Left) and Edward Johnson Jr., program manager for Huu-ay-aht First Nation, stood near an 800-year-old felled tree near Bamfield. Paul will carve the tree into a new Language Revitalization Pole for the UN 2019 Year of Indigenous languages (File Contributed/First Nations Education Foundation)

800-year-old tree to become UN project totem at B.C. university

Pole to be raised in recognition of the UN 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages

An 800-year-old tree that’s been lying in the woods near Bamfield for over 50 years will now get a second life as a part of a UN project.

The Huu-ay-aht People gifted the 40,000-pound red cedar to the First Nations Education Foundation (FNEF). It will be taken to Port Alberni and carved by master carver, Tim Paul, into a Language Revitalization Pole in recognition of the UN 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages. Upon completion, the pole will be moved to a prominent site at the University of Victoria.

READ MORE: Exploring First Nation languages in B.C.

The entire moving and carving process – including story telling, teaching and community involvement – will be documented in photo and film. This footage will be used in tool kits for distribution to the 11,000 UNESCO Associated School Network in over 180 countries to teach people about Indigenous culture and language.

ALSO READ: B.C. teen creating app, summer camp to revive First Nations language

“Recording, filming and documenting the language and stories… it was never that easy for our people. That’s not the way the Indigenous people were, ” said Les Doiron, chief executive officer of the FNEF and elected president of the Yuułuʔiłʔath Government (the Ucluelet First Nation). “There are threats facing Indigenous languages around the world, and there’s an urgent need to advance reconciliation and to preserve and promote language and culture through innovative solutions.”

An outline of the Language Revitalization Pole shows eight of the 11 Nuu-Chah-Nulth relatives who will be present on the pole. (File contributed/ FNEF)

Doiron said the First Nations peoples of the West Coast were always visual story tellers, and that totems are traditionally sacred additions to the family.

“A totem tells a story, you erect it and it’s there for the world to see and view,” Doiron said. “This pole will not only help bring a shift the Canadian mindset, but be available whether you’re a student at UVic or a tourist traveling to see it.”

ALSO READ: Aboriginal speech language pathologist helps Vancouver Island kids

Nuu-chah-nulth artist Tim Paul has chosen stories and themes which help explain the bonds between language and art. It will encompass 10 relatives of the Nuu-chah-nulth people: the sky, sun, moon, mountains, rivers, lakes, land, sea, wind and stars.

“He will also add an eleventh relative: the earthquake, sent to teach humility and remind human beings of the all-encompassing power of the Creator,” Doiron said.

The Language Revitalization Pole will stand 70 feet tall when complete, with a target completion date of November 2019.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

Sicamous Eagles lose to league-leading Kimberley Dynamiters

The Eagles will be right back at it with a Sunday afternoon game against Chase.

Word on the street: What is your strategy for not spending too much on Christmas gifts this year?

The Observer asked: What is your strategy for not spending too much on Christmas gifts this year?

People who are homeless in Salmon Arm provide consultants with key information

Urban Matters consultants gather information from ‘experts’ as they work on housing strategy

Map points to mysterious ‘Waterdome’ in the middle of Salmon Arm Bay

City would like to have map marker removed, pilot recalls its significance

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

West Kelowna house fire demonstrates danger posed by candles

West Kelowna Fire Rescue says an unattended candle caused the Sunday afternoon fire.

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

Slippery sections reported on Okanagan and Shuswap highways

Some sections of the Trans-Canada highway have black ice on them.

Most Read