British Columbia

Raising of historic Haida pole comes with apology from B.C. premier

A ceremony on Friday to raise the historic Haida totem pole at Peace Arch Provincial Park aims to right a wrong for three B.C. First Nations.

Restoration of totem pole aims to 'set things right' for 3 B.C. First Nations

The pole was restored and raised in accordance with the cultures and traditions of the Semiahama, Kwakwaka’wakw and Haida peoples.

A ceremony to raise a historic Haida totem pole at Peace Arch Provincial Park aims to right a wrong for three B.C. First Nations.

The pole is a replica of a pole from the Haida village of Skedans and was carved for the Royal British Columbia Museum by respected Kwakwaka'wakw carver Mungo Martin.

It was placed at the Peace Arch visitor centre on Semiahmoo​ traditional territory near the border crossing in the 1950s.

During reconstruction of that centre a decade ago, the pole was removed without notice or consultation.

"We are all affected by what happened so long ago, here, and we are here to do a reconciliation for what happened," said Semiahmoo Coun. Joanne Charles during Friday's pole-raising ceremony.

"The provincial government here is doing this work to set things right in a good way."

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Indigenous leaders pulled on the ropes as the pole was raised according to the cultures and traditions of the Semiahma, Kwakwaka'wakw and Haida peoples.

Horgan also offered words of apology for the treatment of the culturally important pole.

"There was no ceremony when the pole first went up. There was no respect when the pole was brought down, and, on behalf of the province of British Columbia, I want to apologize to all of those that were involved," Horgan said.

The placement of the pole in the park at the border crossing into Canada is also fitting as the provincial and federal governments work on nation-to-nation relationships with Indigenous groups, Horgan said.

The premier will also deliver a formal apology for the treatment of the pole when the legislature resumes next month.

B.C. Premier John Horgan prepares to help raise a restored Haida Totem pole at Peace Arch Provincial Park, as part of a reconciliation ceremony. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

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