The restoration project has begun on the pole in Edgewood. (Jutta Plessner photo)

Restorative totem project underway in Edgewood

The pole was made almost 50 years ago to pay respect to local First Nations

A 20-foot-long protohistoric pole is being restored in Edgewood, B.C. with the help of local carvers David Buchroder and Louanne Flintoft.

The protohistoric pole depicts the history and culture of local First Nations like the Sinixt and Ktunaxa and is different than totem poles found along the coast of British Columbia.

The pole was built by Jim Wilkinson in the early 1970s to honour local First Nations, who lost much of their traditional territory to flooding when dams were constructed in the region.

Buchroder said there will be multiple phases to the restoration project.

“To start off, I’ll be grinding the totem pole all the way to the wood. That’ll involve taking the paint and plant growth off it,” said Buchroder.

“I’ll then be repainting it and re-staining it to protect the totem pole from water damage.”

Given the size of the totem pole, the duo will be restoring it in its upright position and at its current location by the local credit union.

Flintoft will help to restore the coyote head at the top of the pole, which was designed by her mother before it was created decades ago.

Flintoft said a plaque at the bottom of the pole will also likely be rewritten, particularly since it incorrectly says that the local First Nations have become extinct.

The restoration will help the public learn more about the local First Nations, according to Flintoft.

“I’m hopeful that the community and the area will appreciate this. There has definitely been interest here to improve and inform people about the First Nations that live here,” said Flintoft.

“This is part of our history and we’re trying to recognize it for what it is.”

The pole shows how First Nations travelled along the Arrow Lakes and the popular activities they continue to do like basketweaving, according to Flintoft.

Buchroder started the project on May 24 and expects it to be completed in about a month.

BC Hydro helped to fund the initial pole project in the 1970s.

Art

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