Totem poles in Victoria, B.C.

totem_empress2_560Thunderbird Park near the Victoria, B.C. wharf includes a good many totem poles created by the indigenous people (mostly GitxsanHaida, andKwakwaka’wakw, says wikipedia). In Robin’s photo you see two previous eras: totems of the original First Nations people, and the Empress Hotel in the background, built by the colonializing British empire who exploited Vancouver Island for coal, lumber and more.

I was drawn to watercolor the pole at the far left. It seems to depict the strong Father at the top (watercolor right) and the Mother protecting the Child below (left). Above each figure are smaller carvings of many people, perhaps representing the tribe, the community.

Even though nearly all of the paint has worn from this pole, I noted that red was reserved for nostrils and mouths — where life and breath join us to the natural world. The First Nations people’s connections to all their relations were unbroken, which we Euro-Americans have forgotten or ignored, to the detriment of life on the planet.

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