Master Nuu-Chah-Nulth carver Tim Paul (Left) and Edward Johnson Jr., program manager for Huu-ay-aht First Nation, stood near an 800-year-old felled tree near Bamfield. Paul will carve the tree into a new Language Revitalization Pole for the UN 2019 Year of Indigenous languages (File Contributed/First Nations Education Foundation)

800-year-old tree to become UN project totem at B.C. university

Pole to be raised in recognition of the UN 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages

An 800-year-old tree that’s been lying in the woods near Bamfield for over 50 years will now get a second life as a part of a UN project.

The Huu-ay-aht People gifted the 40,000-pound red cedar to the First Nations Education Foundation (FNEF). It will be taken to Port Alberni and carved by master carver, Tim Paul, into a Language Revitalization Pole in recognition of the UN 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages. Upon completion, the pole will be moved to a prominent site at the University of Victoria.

READ MORE: Exploring First Nation languages in B.C.

The entire moving and carving process – including story telling, teaching and community involvement – will be documented in photo and film. This footage will be used in tool kits for distribution to the 11,000 UNESCO Associated School Network in over 180 countries to teach people about Indigenous culture and language.

ALSO READ: B.C. teen creating app, summer camp to revive First Nations language

“Recording, filming and documenting the language and stories… it was never that easy for our people. That’s not the way the Indigenous people were, ” said Les Doiron, chief executive officer of the FNEF and elected president of the Yuułuʔiłʔath Government (the Ucluelet First Nation). “There are threats facing Indigenous languages around the world, and there’s an urgent need to advance reconciliation and to preserve and promote language and culture through innovative solutions.”

An outline of the Language Revitalization Pole shows eight of the 11 Nuu-Chah-Nulth relatives who will be present on the pole. (File contributed/ FNEF)

Doiron said the First Nations peoples of the West Coast were always visual story tellers, and that totems are traditionally sacred additions to the family.

“A totem tells a story, you erect it and it’s there for the world to see and view,” Doiron said. “This pole will not only help bring a shift the Canadian mindset, but be available whether you’re a student at UVic or a tourist traveling to see it.”

ALSO READ: Aboriginal speech language pathologist helps Vancouver Island kids

Nuu-chah-nulth artist Tim Paul has chosen stories and themes which help explain the bonds between language and art. It will encompass 10 relatives of the Nuu-chah-nulth people: the sky, sun, moon, mountains, rivers, lakes, land, sea, wind and stars.

“He will also add an eleventh relative: the earthquake, sent to teach humility and remind human beings of the all-encompassing power of the Creator,” Doiron said.

The Language Revitalization Pole will stand 70 feet tall when complete, with a target completion date of November 2019.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

VIDEO: Surrey soccer team wins national title for teammate Bassi, killed in car crash last spring

‘It meant the world to us to win it for him,’ says team manager/coach

RCMP shoot dog in South Surrey after it charges officer

Member of the public not seriously injured after dog bite

South Surrey mother leads team of women to build homes in El Salvador

Kelley McNamara and her daughter are to help build a dozen homes in three days

Donation allows Peace Arch Hospital to buy new ventilator

TB Vets donate $73,000 to hospital foundation

Paul Bennett honoured at Peace Arch Hospital Foundation awards

Cloverdale man, murdered in June 2018, was one of a number of people to be honoured

VIDEO: Trudeau plays defence in Maritimes today while Scheer fights for seats in Quebec

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, whose party has been on the rise in recent polls, is campaigning in Toronto

Court action in Trail acid spills may take years

B.C. court case involves a number of defendants and a number of plaintiffs

In the news: Sprinting to the election finish line and anger amid Manitoba storms

First Nations residents forced to evacuate their Manitoba homes after a recent snowstorm

VIDEO: Townhouse fourth Maple Ridge blaze in less than a day

UPDATE: Fire victims have much to be thankful for, despite loss of pets on Thanksgiving Day

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

Most Read