Spectrum set to raise welcome pole

Master carver Doug LaFortune carving 10-foot-tall raven out of 600-year-old red cedar

Tsawout band member Doug LaFortune uses an elbow axe to carve a raven totem pole at Spectrum Community School

Spectrum Community School is set to raise a Coast Salish welcoming pole, the culmination of master carver Doug LaFortune’s residency over the past few weeks in the school.

The prolific artist, who resides at the Tsawout First Nations, is carving a 10-foot-tall raven into red cedar that’s between 600 and 700 years old. It will greet all comers to Spectrum once the school raises it on Friday.

“It’s a contemporary, modern raven, not what we would have traditionally carved,” LaFortune told a class of Spectrum students. “I wanted people to see right away that it is a raven.”

The raven in local Salish culture is known as a trickster. It won’t be painted, though traditionally some poles were.

“The colour of this wood is too beautiful and it has great lines,” said the master carver.

LaFortune’s wife Cathy, who also produces art, shared a collection of traditional artefacts with Eagleview elementary and Spectrum students. The collection included cleaned, dried-out clam shells that were glued shut (traditionally with the pitch from trees) with pebbles inside.

“These acted as rattles for our songs and for our ceremonies,” she told an Eagleview class.

Doug LaFortune is also expecting to raise a welcoming pole and sign for the community of Saanichton this summer.

 

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

 

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