A Saanich care home marked two decades since erecting the totem pole that still stands outside its entrance with a re-dedication ceremony.
Broadmead Care’s Veterans Memorial Lodge in Royal Oak celebrated the 20th anniversary of the raising of the veterans memorial totem pole on Wednesday (April 26), showcasing stories about Indigenous veterans from the First World War to present day.
Calvin Hunt, Kwakwaka’wakw master carver and one of the totem pole’s original carvers, shared information about its history and symbolism.
Eric Pelkey, Tsawout First Nation hereditary chief and WSANEC Leadership Council’s community engagement coordinator, also attended the ceremony, alongside family and friends of the master carver.
The totem pole, commissioned by Broadmead Care in 2002 and unveiled in 2003 at the entrance of Veterans Memorial Lodge, honours the contributions and sacrifices made by Indigenous veterans. It was carved by Hunt, as well as Mervin Child and John Livingston.
At the top sits an eagle, which represents nobility, integrity and heavenly pride. Moving down, a warrior is wrapped in a blanket with a sisuth design – a double-headed serpent – protecting him from his enemies.
At the bottom, a bear symbolizes a fearless, strong and determined spirit. It holds a salmon symbolizing a long journey and a return home.
The story of Indigenous service in the World Wars, Korean War and later Canadian Armed Forces efforts both domestically and abroad, is a proud one. It is estimated that as many as 12,000 Indigenous people served in the 20th century’s greatest conflicts.
Broadmead Care also unveiled Memory Anchor’s digital preservation of the totem pole on Wednesday.
Memory Anchor, funded by Veterans Affairs Canada, is a veteran-founded software company dedicated to the long-term digital preservation of monuments, memorials, vehicles and artifacts.
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