Symbolic totem pole set to be installed in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

The Survivors Totem Pole will be installed this Saturday (Vancouver Park Board)

The Survivors Totem Pole will be installed this Saturday (Vancouver Park Board)

Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside will be getting a new addition this weekend. The Vancouver Park Board is teaming up with the Sacred Circle Society to bring a 27 foot totem pole to Pigeon Park in a ceremony on Saturday morning. Coast Salish and Haida officials will be in attendance, along with 50 other special guests including Mayor of Vancouver Gregor Robertson.

The Survivors Totem Pole was made from a 1000 year old red cedar log that originally came from Haida Gwaii. It was carved by Skundaal Bernie Williams, the only female apprentice of the late Bill Reid. She says that the totem pole carries a lot of meaning for a wide range of people.

“It really knocked the wind out of my sails, it triggered something in me. Everybody is down here for a reason. I’m glad I ended up here because this is the greatest community around. It is so unconditional and the people here are very accepting. We are fighting for our dignity, homes and cultures and this Survivors Totem Pole is a symbol of that.”

The Vancouver Park Board first received a proposal for the Survivors Totem Pole from the Sacred Circle Society in June, and decided to contribute $50,000 to the project.

Pigeon Park will be closed on Friday in preparation for the ceremony, which will take place on Saturday at 11AM. The public is invited to attend but event organizers are urging people to walk or bike to get there in order to avoid traffic.