More than 100 people gathered at Adam Robertson Elementary School on Oct. 11 to witness a first for the Creston Valley.
A totem pole, the culmination of a project that began with a grant application to build a small park on the school grounds four years ago, was erected. It was carved under the supervision of local carver Michael Price, with help from numerous students, notably Kaydon Booth.
ARES principal Rod Giles credited former parent advisory council member Deryn Collier and teacher Judy Gadicke for “planting the seed and obtaining the funding for an indigenous garden.”
Sixth grade student Kaydon Booth was given credit for originating the totem pole idea.
“After Mr. Smith (teaching assistant Gary Smith) put the native garden in, I was looking at a totem pole book and thought a totem pole would look good in the garden. So I asked Mr. Smith, Josie Fullarton and Mr. Giles if I could carve one. Josie said a native carver was coming to the school and she would ask him if he would guide us in carving a totem pole. That’s how it all started last spring.
“Michael asked me what animals I wanted to carve. I chose these animals because I like the look of them, I think they are pretty cool. The eagle flies in the air, the wolf lives on land, the beaver lives in creeks and lakes and the sea seal lives in the ocean that is deeper than lakes.
“What I learned is how to carve these animals and to see how old a tree is. This tree is 100 years old. I learned that I could only work on the totem pole after I got my school work done or only work on the pole when I’m into it. I also learned about respect and to practice patience because I thought it would only take 2 or 3 months to carve it.
“I would like to thank Michael because he showed us how to carve the totem pole. To thank Josie for inviting Michael to our school. To Mr Giles for letting this happen and thank Mr Smith for letting us use his workshop. I would also like to thank my family and friends for coming and celebrating with me.”
On hand to provide blessings for the ceremony, Lower Kootenay Band Chief Jason Louie observed that “20 years ago something like this wouldn’t have even been talked about.”