A traditional totem pole-raising ceremony was held at the Native Friendship Centre on Tuesday.

Art unveiled around town for National Aboriginal Day

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From the friendship centre to a shopping centre, First Nations art was unveiled around town Tuesday in celebration of National Aboriginal Day.

The Victoria Native Friendship Centre shut down Regina Avenue, which was packed with participants and on-lookers, during the pole-raising ceremony for “Connected Through Our Roots,” a welcome totem by Victoria-based master carver Carey Newman.

The red cedar pole, representing First Nations from across Vancouver Island, was a collaborative project. Newman’s father Victor worked on the pole, as well as groups of youth carvers mentored by Newman through the Eagle Project at the Friendship Centre.

Before friends and members of the centre began pulling on the ropes to raise the totem, Newman let the crowd know that two eagles had been watching over the site that morning.

“I’ve been told that it’s been capable of bridging worlds,” Newman said of the totem’s eagle figure.

“We’re bridging generations and cultural divides.”

Paul Lacerte, executive director of the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, called the meeting of aboriginal and non-aboriginal people a sign of a good future to come.

“By acting in a ceremonial way, we’re breathing life into our traditions,” Lacerte said.

At Uptown, a joint effort between Coast Salish master carver Doug LaFortune and artist Nathan Scott was unveiled on the corner of Blanshard Street and Saanich Road. LaFortune carved a wooden piece depicting a freestanding heron and two frogs, from which Scott cast a bronze sculpture.

Uptown will present a showcase of First Nations art from June 15-25 at The Point, on the development’s south side. The showcase will include carving demonstrations by LaFortune, and the woodcarving that formed the basis of the new bronze installation will be on display.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

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