CAOB almost ready to raise ‘good energy’

Community pulls together for First Nations pole project

Songhees carver Clarence Dick works on the welcome pole commissioned by the Community Association of Oak Bay and set to be raised in front of Oak Bay High School in late October or early November.

With the fundraising nearing its target, and at least one major fundraiser left, the Community Association of Oak Bay has high hopes to raise Sno’uyutth this fall.

“The carving is almost done,” says Joseph Blake, co-leader of the Sno’uyutth pole project. “We’re over $75,000 toward the $88,000 budget we proposed at the beginning.”

It’s been about a year since the group launched the campaign to commission the welcoming pole called Sno’uyutth, Coast Salish for ‘spreading good energy.’ The budget was an estimate for the artwork the CAOB commissioned Songhees master carver Butch Dick to design, and his son Clarence Dick to carve.

“We’ve stuck with that figure, what our goal is, is to raise more money than we need,” Blake said.

A tentative plan, should there be remaining funds, is the create a scholarship for First Nation Oak Bay students to use for post-secondary education.

One or two untapped resources remain, as well as a benefit concert at The Oaks slated for Sept. 26. The concerts held monthly at the village eatery raise roughly $3,000 each month through ticket sales and auction items.

“Every time I’ve asked [for donations] the community has been great,” Blake said. “People love the events … It’s the best party ever because you don’t have to clean up dishes. It creates a sense of community that’s really, really warming.”

Aside from fundraisers, and with the exception of several large donations such as the District of Oak Bay funding, the money has come in smaller denominations.

“Businesses and residents of Oak Bay have gone above and beyond,” Blake said.

“The mayor in particular, he took this on and from the beginning he understood what the project is about.”

Once complete and raised on the grounds at the new high school building, the Victoria School Board will own and maintain the artwork.

The community association hopes to raise the pole with a ceremony in late October or early November.

Carving, by artist Clarence Dick at Songhees, is nearly complete, Blake said.

“My hope is at the Sept. 26 benefit at The Oaks will be a celebration of making our goal.”

That night local singer-songwriter Mike Demers – who came to The Oaks as sound man for the Joe Cochrane benefit show and offered up a concert – brings his Roy Orbison tribute band The Lonely.

They’re white-hot right now with sellout crowds at various venues this summer, including the Charlie White Theatre in Sidney most recently.

The band plays at 7 p.m. at The Oaks Restaurant and Tea Room, 2250 Oak Bay Ave. Tickets, $20 in advance or $25 at the door, are available at The Oaks or at 250-590-3155.


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