Carver chosen for Gwaii Haanas Legacy pole

  • Aug. 27, 2012 3:00 p.m.

Submitted by the Council of the Haida Nation-April Churchill, vice-president of the Haida Nation, has announced the artist chosen to carve the Gwaii Haanas Legacy pole. After a call was put out to carvers, a six-person selection committee consisting of a hereditary chief, two Haida citizens, a carver, and two Gwaii Haanas staff members deliberated over the applications. The proposals were put before the committee with no names attached, and evaluated by storyline and design. Jaalen Edenshaw from Masset will carve a 40-foot pole out of red cedar; both the medium and design will reflect the rich and diverse protected area known as Gwaii Haanas.The completed pole will be raised in August 2013, during celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement and the successful cooperative management of the area, from mountaintop to seafloor.Some very old poles still stand in SGang Gwaay Llnagaay – a Haida Heritage Site also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and in the village of Skedans. Raising the Gwaii Haanas Legacy pole will celebrate Haida culture and the ongoing relationship between the two governments.”The carving of this pole will highlight sound stewardship values as well as the joint management of Gwaii Haanas,” said Ms. Churchill. “For centuries, the carving of our precious red cedar has commemorated our stories and history; now, the Gwaii Haanas Legacy pole will commemorate the story about the successful care of Gwaii Haanas through a unique and respectful relationship between two governments. The pole evidences that when we work together for common good, the outcome is successful care of land and waters for the benefit of all people.”The Honourable Peter Kent, Canada’s Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, is pleased that such an enduring symbol of the cooperative relationship will exist for all Canadians to see.”The Government of Canada is honoured to fund this special project. Raising a pole in Gwaii Haanas is no small feat. The area is as remote as it is spectacular,” said Minister Kent. “After 20 years of success working collaboratively with the Haida Nation, raising a new pole in this place of great importance to the people of Haida Gwaii, Canada and the world – will truly be something to celebrate. I am thrilled that a pole carver has been announced, and look forward to seeing the pole once it is completed.”According to Jaalen, the pole design unveiled today was inspired by the strength in the connection between the land and the people, and the power of cooperation. His design features figures from the land and sea as well as the supernatural world. Visitors, archaeologists, watchmen, raven and eagle clans, those who stood on the line at Athlii Gwaii (Lyell Island), and more, are represented.The Gwaii Haanas Legacy pole will be carved at the Haida Heritage Centre at Kaay Llnagaay in Skidegate. Over the next year, people of all ages can visit the site to meet the carver and learn about pole carving, Gwaii Haanas, and Haida Gwaii.

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