Master carver Carey Newman holds his two-year-old daughter Adelyn shortly after 100 people helped raise his 26-foot totem 'Na' mima' at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre on Regina Avenue.

Second of three pillars rises at native friendship centre

A new totem pole has taken root outside the Victoria Native Friendship Centre after a ceremony today

Holding his daughter, master carver Carey Newman watched as 100 volunteers heaved on lines, slowly lifting his 26-foot Thunderbird-capped totem to the sky.

When crews secured the totem to the ground and it took its place outside the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, the 37-year-old artist could finally see his work as it was meant to be – tall and upright in the world. He could also finally sleep.

“It was barely enough time. I worked through the night last night, and worked through the night before,” Newman said. “Then just before the rise, I noticed part of a figure’s nose had no paint.”

After six weeks of frenetic work to finish the piece to today’s deadline, and minutes before the totem raising ceremony, Newman dabbed on the final spots of colour and dried it with a hairdryer.

Following a ceremony with Kwakwaaka’wakw Nation elders, scores of young people braved the cold rain and pulled ropes weaved through pulleys in a choreographed lift that went off without a hitch.

The totem represents the Kwakwaaka’wakw Nation and sits near a pole installed last year representing the Coast Salish, also carved by Newman. A third totem planned for next year will represent the third First Nation family of Vancouver Island, the Nuu-chah-nulth.

“We are honouring the three nations of Vancouver Island and this (ceremony) is about hornouring those nations,” said Bruce Parisian, executive director of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre. “This is one of the most important cultural events we have here. (Totems) are symbols of what happens in our community.”

Both totems are cut from the same tree, an 800-year-old cedar from the Nimpkish Valley and donated by the Kwakwaaka’wakw people. The cedar was six feet thick at its butt.

Carving the totem was an integral part of the Eagle project, a job and education readiness program at VNFC for youth and young adults. About 70 youth participated in hands-on carving of the pole over the past year, from the point of a raw log to where Newman’s practiced hand needed to take over.

“I’m pleased it got finished. I’m proud of the work the kids did,” Newman said. “Seeing it go up is a whole new experience. I’m used to seeing it on its back. Now I’m seeing it for the first time the way it was intended to be.”

The totem depicts a frog and a double-headed serpent on the bottom, wolves up the side, a mother and child, a whale, a bear and a Thunderbird (eagle) at the peak. Newman calls it “Na’ mima,” meaning “people of one kind.” He says the project was an intensely personal totem that traces the story of his family.

Newman, from a lineage of carvers, took inspiration too from his great-great grandfather Charlie James, a famed carver who helped teach Mungo Martin, himself famous for his collection of totems at Thunderbird Park outside the the Royal B.C. Museum.

“I took a few cues, some inspiration from the way (Charlie James) does the bear and the eagle, and the way the whale wraps around the totem,” he said. “It’s pieced together from a personal perspective. It’s built around my family.”

For more on the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, see vnfc.ca.

editor@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

CRD commission votes against alternate Malahat route through watershed

Commission voted unanimously after several speakers at meeting

Victoria parking fees bring in more than $17 million every year

Parking fees make up seven per cent of the city’s annual revenue

Deer study using collars, cameras under watchful eyes outside of Victoria

Method ‘could revolutionize how we go about doing wildlife studies of this kind,’ says scientist

Geography among factors behind Saanich’s place on worst intersection list

Site of McKenzie Interchange Project ranks as worst intersection on Vancouver Island

Town clock back on the Ave. in Oak Bay

A computer failure discovered after daylight savings in Nov. sent the clock in for upgrades

Black Press readers share photos of their favourite critters on #LoveYourPetDay

Greater Victoria is raining cats and dogs…and snails and goats

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

B.C. man in wheelchair following police shooting

“Shots were fired by police and the Kelowna man was transported to the hospital with serious injuries.”

Peter Tork, Monkees’ lovable bass-guitar player, dies at 77

Tork, Micky Dolenz, David Jones and Michael Nesmith formed the made-for-television rock band

From a drunk judge to Clifford Olson: George Garrett recounts a life in B.C. news radio

New book from ‘Intrepid Reporter’ George Garrett offers readers a glimpse behind the headlines

Wife remembers B.C. man killed in possible case of mistaken identity

Rex Gill was in Kamloops working to support his family after oilfield job dried up

Early morning shooting in Courtenay

Reporter at taped-off scene outside apartment complex

One dead, two seriously injured in Hwy 4 crash west of Port Alberni

A man has died following a single-vehicle collision west of Port Alberni… Continue reading

Millennial men least likely to have a family doctor: Statistics Canada

Report found more women have primary care physicians, compared with men

Most Read