Raising the Gwaii Haanas Legacy Totem Pole, Summer 2013

February 15th, 2013

Legacy Pole_smaller1

A 42-foot monumental cedar pole is being carved to honour the 20th anniversary of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement that established the heralded cooperative management relationship between the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada (learn more on our More about Gwaii Haanas page).

The Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole will be the first monumental pole raised in the Gwaii Haanas area in over 130 years. The carver, Jaalen Edenshaw, and his assistant, Tyler York, are bringing to life a design inspired by the connections between land, sea and people. Every pole tells a story, and the Legacy Pole relays the history of the battle and eventual agreement to protect Gwaii Haanas.

A grizzly bear holding a sculpin at the bottom of the pole is bookended with an eagle at the top of the pole to represent the protection of Gwaii Haanas from the sea floor to mountain top. Other figures on the pole include five human figures (representing the 1985 Lyell Island blockade), a raven (to pair with the eagle – the two Haida moities), three figures representing the Haida Gwaii Watchmen, and a human face tucked into the ear of a wasgo representing visitors to Gwaii Haanas. Jaalen also added Sacred-One-Standing-and-Moving to the pole after a large earthquake occurred off the west coast of Haida Gwaii in October 2012.

The Legacy Pole is scheduled to be raised in Gwaii Haanas on August 15th, 2013, with a feast to follow in Skidegate on August 17th.