NEWS

Legacy pole first to tower over Gwaii Haanas in 130 years

08/15/2013 08:55 EDT | Updated 10/15/2013 05:12 EDT
For the first time in 130 years, a new pole will be erected in the Gwaii Haanas area, detailing the history of the region and commemorating two landmark agreements that led to the creation of the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and the Haida Heritage Site.

The 13-metre pole, called a legacy pole, was carved to celebrate the 20th anniversary of an agreement between the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada.

"Raising a pole 20 years after signing the paper agreement, you know, is really a Haida way of showing that relationship, and documenting it and recording it for the future," said Jason Alsop, chief executive officer of the Haida Heritage Centre.

It will take at least 100 people to pull the intricately carved red cedar pole into place today, above the rocky shoreline of Lyell Island.

"It gives us a snapshot into what it was like for our ancestors, who would have been raising poles all over Haida Gwaii," Alsop said.

Historic poles still stand in the villages of SGang Gwaay and Skedans.

The legacy pole tells the story of how Canada and the Haida Nation came together through an historic agreement to protect Gwaii Haanas.

The pole includes carvings of a grizzly bear, raven, dog and eagle. Carvers also included the Sacred-One-Standing-and-Moving, the supernatural being they believe is responsible for last year's 7.7. magnitude earthquake on Hotspring Island.

Alsop hopes more poles will be raised on Haida Gwaii in the future.

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