Legacy pole first to tower over Gwaii Haanas in 130 years
Pole celebrates 20th anniversary of agreement between Haida Nation, Canadian government
For the first time in 130 years, a new pole has been 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 by Jaalen Edenshaw to celebrate the 20th anniversary of an agreement between the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada.
"It's the willingness to look past land ownership and work together to protect this land," Edenshaw told the CBC's Kathryn Gretsinger on The Early Edition.
The 33-year-old said not only did he feel honoured to carve the legacy pole, but his greatest honour was being able to tell the story of the people who worked to create the historic agreement to protect Gwaii Haanas.
The pole includes carvings of a grizzly bear, raven, dog, eagle and the Sacred-One-Standing-and-Moving, the supernatural being people believe is responsible for last year's 7.7. magnitude earthquake on Hotspring Island.
Record for the future
"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 took about 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.
Alsop hopes more poles will be raised on Haida Gwaii in the future.
With files from the CBC's Marissa Harvey and The Early Edition