Story pole raised in traditional way at Christina Living Arts Centre
Every community has a story. For Christina Lake the story dates back to the times before even the First Nations story began, back to the time that only exists in the legends of the S’nixit people who lived in the area. Marilyn James, of the S’nixit nation, explained that the story of Christina Lake is still being created in the area today. James participated in the raising of the story pole at the Christina Living Arts Centre last Saturday, June 19. Along with James representatives of the local Metis Association and Boundary All Nations Aboriginal Council came to witness the raising of the pole carved by totem carvers from the coast of B.C. While totems are not a tradition of the area, the decision to create a story pole was a way for the centre to acknowledge the First Nations peoples who used to live in the area. James said that the story of the First Nations in Christina Lake includes the pain of the creation of the border with the United States, the migration of the people away from the area, and the new stories of the survival of the S’nixit and the future story she sees will be the pressure for water. James challenged the new residents of the area to be the bearers of the continuing story. Two of the carvers from the coast who were the leads on the story pole, Xwalacktun and Drew Atkins, were on hand to assist in blessing the pole and raising it to its new resting place inside the Arts Centre. The pole was carved from a cedar tree and the blessing gives it a new life. The motif carved onto the pole represents the presence in the area over the years of three First Nations groups – the Ktunaka, the S’nixit, and the Okanagan – and the Metis. The pole carving included participation of many volunteers, and students who were able to learn about the tradition of totem carving as they worked on the poles. Another pole will be raised at Grand Forks Senior Secondary School – a community pole.
Watch the video to see the raising of the pole and to hear the story!