New totem sign of healing

A new totem pole has been unveiled outside government building in Victoria to symbolize reconciliation with B.C. First Nations.

It was carved from a 300-year-old red cedar by artists Tom and Perry LaFortune of the Tsawout First Nation.

Figures on the totem include:

  • Raven: messenger of good news
  • Owl: ability to see in both worlds, the past, present and future
  • Frog: conscience of the community
  • Woman: grandmother who teaches respect, humility, and resilience
  • Rope: connects the figures together for strength and continuity

The pole was carved this summer at the Royal BC Museum's outdoor plaza. 

"Throughout the carving process this summer, there was an excellent learning opportunity for the public to witness First Nations cultural practices," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. "And we know that this increased understanding of Indigenous culture is a high priority for all levels of government, particularly within the health-care system, as we focus on providing the culturally safe care people depend on every day."

The totem was erected outside the ministries of Health and Mental Health and Addictions.

Health authorities have worked with First Nations, Metis and Indigenous partners to improve cultural safety and humility across their organizations, the province said in a press release. 

"There is a belief in ... that healing is rooted in the Teachings and Natural Laws, which flow from the Sacred Trust. The Sacred Trust determines the relationships between the land, water and resources, the Community, and the Spiritual Path," said Katie Hooper, executive director of the Esquimalt Nation.

"This totem pole project aligns with the ... belief that healing can be created from the art of sharing."



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