Local dignitaries joined four Eagle Chiefs representing the Pentlatch, E’iksan, Sahtloot and Sasitla territories in a celebration and unveiling of a totem pole at the Courtenay Riverway Walkway on Friday, July 8.
The totem pole was designed by Karver Everson, and stands at the hill lookout, overlooking the estuary.
“This is a momentous day for our people,” said Chief Wedlidi Speck, addressing those in attendance. “This pole is a symbol of where we belong as Pentlatch, E’iksan, Sahtloot, and Sasitla people. This is our land.”
Chief Speck reflected on the ongoing process of building relationships with surrounding communities.
“My grandfather, the late Chief Andy Frank… developed a relationship with the settler population here in the Comox Valley, so that we had good standing among everyone here. My grandfather did great things, and I see the chiefs here following in those footsteps of building those relationships.”
The flatback-style totem has three sections on the front and an I-Hos on the back.
“The top figure is a thunderbird,” said Everson. “Below that is a figure holding his belly, and that represents fullness – fullness of good energy, fullness of food. Below that is the sun, which is one of the E’iksan crests. Then the I-Hos on the back is a Pentlatch and K’ómoks crest that is associated with protection. So it is multiple crests coming together in unity, and that’s what we really need to have moving forward – unity with each other, and all of us coming together in a good way. That’s what today was – all of us coming together.”
Everson said that while he created the piece, the creation is not about him.
“I do this work for the next generation,” he said. “It’s for them to look at significant places in our territory and see these poles, and have roots, and learn who they are and where they come from…. for them to have a sense of pride in who they are, and understanding the lineage that they come from. So that’s who it’s for. Sure, I carved it, but it’s for them and for the people.”
Everson estimated it took him approximately two months to complete the creation, which is carved from a western cedar.