PHOTOS: Totem pole unveiled at Courtenay Riverway Walkway

Kumagwe dancers during totem ceremony. Photo by Terry FarrellKumagwe dancers during totem ceremony. Photo by Terry Farrell
Karver Everson looks up at the totem he created that now stands on the Courtenay Riverway Walkway hill lookout. Photo by Terry FarrellKarver Everson looks up at the totem he created that now stands on the Courtenay Riverway Walkway hill lookout. Photo by Terry Farrell
The Kumagwe Dancers performed during the totem ceremony. Photo by Terry FarrellThe Kumagwe Dancers performed during the totem ceremony. Photo by Terry Farrell
Unveiling complete. Photo by Terry FarrellUnveiling complete. Photo by Terry Farrell
Group shot. Photo by Terry FarrellGroup shot. Photo by Terry Farrell
The back of the totem has an I-Hos (sea serpent) - a symbol of protection. Photo by Terry FarrellThe back of the totem has an I-Hos (sea serpent) - a symbol of protection. Photo by Terry Farrell
Members of the territories look on as the totem is unveiled. Photo by Terry Farrell.Members of the territories look on as the totem is unveiled. Photo by Terry Farrell.
The chiefs christen the totem with eagle down. Photo by Terry FarrellThe chiefs christen the totem with eagle down. Photo by Terry Farrell
Chief Wedlidi Speck welcomes the crowd. Photo by Terry farrellChief Wedlidi Speck welcomes the crowd. Photo by Terry farrell
Karver Everson. Photo by Terry FarrellKarver Everson. Photo by Terry Farrell
Rob, Karver, Andy and Jessie Everson perform a ceremonial song prior to the unveiling of the new totem. Photo by Terry FarrellRob, Karver, Andy and Jessie Everson perform a ceremonial song prior to the unveiling of the new totem. Photo by Terry Farrell
Karver Everson unveils the totem. Photo by Terry FarrellKarver Everson unveils the totem. Photo by Terry Farrell
The Kumagwe dancers perform as the men provide the music during the totem ceremony at Courtenay Riverway Park. Photo by Terry Farrell

Local dignitaries joined four Eagle Chiefs representing the Pentlatch, E’iksan, Sahtloot and Sasitla territories in a celebration and unveiling of a totem pole at the Courtenay Riverway Walkway on Friday, July 8.

The totem pole was designed by Karver Everson, and stands at the hill lookout, overlooking the estuary.

“This is a momentous day for our people,” said Chief Wedlidi Speck, addressing those in attendance. “This pole is a symbol of where we belong as Pentlatch, E’iksan, Sahtloot, and Sasitla people. This is our land.”

Chief Speck reflected on the ongoing process of building relationships with surrounding communities.

“My grandfather, the late Chief Andy Frank… developed a relationship with the settler population here in the Comox Valley, so that we had good standing among everyone here. My grandfather did great things, and I see the chiefs here following in those footsteps of building those relationships.”

The flatback-style totem has three sections on the front and an I-Hos on the back.

“The top figure is a thunderbird,” said Everson. “Below that is a figure holding his belly, and that represents fullness – fullness of good energy, fullness of food. Below that is the sun, which is one of the E’iksan crests. Then the I-Hos on the back is a Pentlatch and K’ómoks crest that is associated with protection. So it is multiple crests coming together in unity, and that’s what we really need to have moving forward – unity with each other, and all of us coming together in a good way. That’s what today was – all of us coming together.”

Everson said that while he created the piece, the creation is not about him.

“I do this work for the next generation,” he said. “It’s for them to look at significant places in our territory and see these poles, and have roots, and learn who they are and where they come from…. for them to have a sense of pride in who they are, and understanding the lineage that they come from. So that’s who it’s for. Sure, I carved it, but it’s for them and for the people.”

Everson estimated it took him approximately two months to complete the creation, which is carved from a western cedar.

Comox Valley