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

Salmon Arm campus of Okanagan College to raise Secwepemcúl̓ecw flag

College to recognize campus sits on traditional and unceded territory

Survey: Salmon Arm houses cheaper to buy than many towns in B.C.

Only places with lower average price per square foot in study were northern communities

City’s only female firefighter feels at home with Salmon Arm crew

Apprentice machinist Kelsey Gorgichuk joined department to give back to community

Ogopogo and Shuswaggi aren’t the only lake monsters to have legendary status

While both have legend status in the Okanagan-Shuswap regions there are said to be more

Video: All ages rally in Salmon Arm to demand climate action

More than 150 people make their way from Ross Street Plaza to city hall for rousing speeches

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

One-in-five British Columbians think they’ll win big while gambling: study

Roughly 58 per cent of British Columbians bought at least one lottery ticket in past year

Okanagan hosts Mexico for soccer

The Okanagan Masters League won both matches against their Mexican counterparts

Epic overtime battle, big turnout for memorial night to late owner of Okanagan hockey team

The KIJHL’s Kelowna Chiefs hounoured Grant Sheridan with a win in the team’s home-opener

Takaya, B.C.’s infamous lone wolf, seen eating seal and howling away on Discovery Island

Fun facts about Takaya the wolf, like his a 36-hour tour around Chatham, Discovery Islands

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

Oak Bay father’s testimony at murder trial like plot of ‘bad low-budget movie:’ Crown

Crown alleged Andrew Berry’s ‘entire story of Christmas Day is a lie’

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Most Read