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Carving history: Royal BC Museum launches new totem project

The pole carving project will allow the public to watch the creation of a new totem
Brothers Tom and Perry Lafortune from the Tsawout Nation are teaming up with the Royal BC Museum and Ministry of Health on a totem carving project starting this monthy. Facebook

The Royal BC Museum is launching a new pole carving program starting mid-July, running into early October.

Two local artists, Tom and Perry LaFortune of the Tsawout First Nation, will carve out a seven-and-a-half metre long piece of timber into a finished pole in the public space of the Museum’s upper plaza.

“It is a tremendous gift to receive such close and constant access to Indigenous artists at work on a complex project,” said RBCM CEO Jack Lohman in a statement. “The Royal BC Museum is thrilled to invite the public to witness this act of artistic creation.”

The LaFortune brothers and B.C. Ministry of Health selected the pole’s theme, Crossing Culture and Healing. Once completed, the pole will be raised at the ministry’s Victoria headquarters.

“At the heart of the Ministry of Health’s programs and services is a desire to provide a culturally safe, respectful space for healing,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “The totem is a symbol of our shared desire to support reconciliation.”

Access is free to the working area, where the LaFortunes will be on hand to discuss their work and provide interpretation throughout the day when not carving. Royal BC Museum staff will also be available to answer questions at other times.

The public can monitor the progress of the pole project, and see scheduled carving times starting in mid-July at