Submitted by the Skidegate Band Council–The project involves the purchase, transport (from Vancouver), and installation inside the Haida Gwaii Museum of a restored 122 year-old Haida totem pole that was originally raised on the beachfront in Skidegate in 1882, and fell in 1987, due to rotting at base of the pole. Much of the pole, which was in extremely fragile condition after having withstood time and the elements for almost one-and-a-quarter centuries, was extensively damaged in the fall. At the instigation of a man named Rodney Ward (who at the time the pole fell was a director on the Vancouver Museum board), the beaver pole has since been painstakingly and beautifully restored by a technician in Vancouver, through rebuilding, fitting, and securing its pieces together, using fiberglass and various other materials. Mr. Ward has paid for these repairs himself.
The restored pole is virtually priceless, but through recent negotiations, he has agreed to release the pole to the people of Skidegate in exchange for reimbursement of the expenses he incurred in bringing the pole to Vancouver, storing it, and having it repaired.
Also included in our project costs are the expenses of crating the pole, transporting it back to Skidegate from Vancouver, and of insuring the pole during transport.
One of the project benefits to our community will be the return of a magnificent monumental pole that was raised in Skidegate long before anyone who lives in our village, today, was born. It stood for well over one hundred years right in the middle of our community and is still remembered, often discussed, and very much missed by most of our adult population.
The eagle pole will be stored in the Haida Gwaii Museum until the Qay’llnagaay Heritage Centre is complete. At that time, the pole will be raised, alongside others, inside the pole gallery of the heritage centre’s expanded museum component.
Thanks to Gwaii Trust funding, the pole has returned home. Willard Wilson was the Band Manager when the pole was taken. He is now Chief councilor having the pole returned has been a priority for Mr. Wilson says Babs Steven, Skidegate Band Manager.
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