Prince Rupert artist/carver Michael Epp has carved two 15 ft welcome poles which have been placed at the entrance of the Prince Rupert Regional Airport to greet travellers and will be available for viewing after Nov. 20. (Photo: supplied)

Art unveiling ceremonies at YPR cancelled due to new pandemic restrictions

Coast Tsimshian Cultural Exhibit at Prince Rupert Regional Airport features local carvers

Three large cultural art work pieces to welcome visitors when they arrive at Prince Rupert Regional Airport are on display at the Prince Rupert Regional Airport. The works which are a part of the Coast Tsimshian Cultural Exhibit were due to be presented in official ceremonies on Nov. 20 which were postponed due to COVID-19.

The hand carved 30 ft cedar dug out canoe and two 15 ft cedar totem poles, a joint venture project between Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla were moved into their permanent positions over the past few months.

“A ceremonial event to bless and name the canoe and bless the two poles will be rescheduled once gatherings are allowed again,” Lisa Girbav project manager for Lax Kw’alaams Business Development said.

Girbav told The Northern View that the original art concepts follow the tradition of when visitors would arrive by canoe with villagers greeting them along the shoreline and placing cedar mats down for them to walk along.

“This is an artists rendition of what it would be like to welcome someone to our community or territory,” Girbav said.

READ MORE: Memorial totem pole raised in Prince Rupert

“A lot of the times when there is a welcome in this area you will hear ‘Welcome to the territory of the Coast Tsimshian and the nine allied tribes of Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla’ – the reference is to those nine tribes,” she said.

Both the canoe and the pair of totem poles have nine chief figures and four crests carved which represent the traditional governance system, she said.

Girbav explained that prior to first contact there were nine Tsimshian tribes in the North Coast which occupied the lower Skeena and Coastal Islands. Those nine tribes she said were divided into house groups which were then sub-divided into crests.

“Art is inherently important to our traditional governance system. The representation of the nine tribal figures, and the four crests in the poles and canoe reaffirm that relationship between art and governance,” Garry Reece mayor of Lax Kw’alaams said.

The project which has been in the works for more than three years commissioned two local artists under a request for proposals in 2017. The cedar logs arrived in Dec. 2018 and were carved in Prince Rupert by local artists Michael Epps and Henry Kelly starting in 2019. Kelly was commissioned to carve the canoe, while Epps carved the two large poles.

In addition to the canoe, Kelly also carved a five ft. pole with four crests using yellow cedar inlayed with abalone shells, bone and other natural materials. It will be installed inside the terminal at a later date.

“Carving the two Ła bała Sganm pts’aan (welcome poles) was truly an honor, bringing to life the creations from the beautiful gift smg̱an (ancient red cedar),” Epp said. “These poles were carved with much łoomsk (respect), paying homage to all of our Sm’ooygit (Chief) and each pteex (clan) of all the tribes. The traditional xsoo (canoe) welcome, is portrayed in the bottom figures.”

“I’m a student of the art and I’m just trying to keep our art and culture alive. This is our identity, it connects us to our past. And this just goes to show we are not going away,” Henry Kelly artist who carved the canoe said.

The art work is jointly owned by Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams under the Coast Tsimshian Enterprise and was sponsored by DP World and Prince Rupert Port Authority.

READ MORE: Photo Gallery: Memorial totem pole raising in Prince Rupert


 
K-J Millar | Journalist 
Send K-J email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Northern Health announced on Dec. 1 holiday changes to the medical travel bus schedule for December and January 2021. (Photo: supplied)
Holiday schedule changes for Northern Health Connections bus

N.H. announces transportation time changes from Prince Rupert to Prince George

A Water Quality Advisory is still in affect on Dec. 1 in Prince Rupert after being in place for a month. (Black Press file photo)
Water Quality Advisory still in place for Prince Rupert

High turbidity is creating risky drinking water in Prince Rupert

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

Most Read