|Squamish hereditary chief Ian Campbell performs a blessing on the totems prior to their removal. Photo: Marianne Meadahl|
Five totem poles located in Simon Fraser University’s Naheeno Park were once considered a landmark but in recent years risked being forgotten as trees and brush filled in the area where they were standing. This prompted the university this past fall to remove the poles, which will be restored and relocated to a more prominent place on campus.
The poles, carved by the late Tshimsian artist Ray Wesley, were installed more than three decades ago. Barbara Winter, curator of SFU’s Museum of Ethnology and Archaeology, says the poles have lasting cultural value. “We want to bring these works of art out where they can be enjoyed by the community.”
The poles are currently being stored to dry them out in a controlled manner – a process which could take up to four months. Further conservation will be done in a minimalist manner as poles are meant to naturally return to the earth, Ms. May explains. “We do not want to interrupt this process … but will slow the process down, letting the poles be enjoyed for a longer period of time.”