Gail Price-Douglas leads the campaign for the Community Association of Oak Bay to commission a First Nation pole for the new Oak Bay High school site.

Gail Price-Douglas leads the campaign for the Community Association of Oak Bay to commission a First Nation pole for the new Oak Bay High school site.

Oak Bay community association spurs grassroots initiative to build bridges

First Nation artwork for new Oak Bay High well into planning phase, next up funding

Successful early steps bode well for a grassroots initiative to build bridges between communities. The Community Association of Oak Bay aims to raise a First Nations pole once the new Oak Bay High school is complete.

“This is a very exciting project. It really comes from the community,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen. “It’s really a community-led initiative, which makes it even more meaningful. The people in Oak Bay through their community association are expressing a need to make their school inclusive.”

The project started with a couple of simple observations.

“There’s very little public art in Oak Bay,” said COAB member Gail Price-Douglas, a former City of Victoria public art co-ordinator. “There’s very little recognition of First Nations in this community.”

In her former role with Victoria, Price-Douglas worked with master Songhees carver Butch Dick and his son. Association members went out and saw the amazing work Dick and his carvers did on a series of house poles and a heron at the Songhees Wellness Centre. Knowing the protocol required to hire the well-known Coast Salish artist, they held a meeting to bring together leaders of the local First Nations, Greater Victoria School Board and District of Oak Bay.

“It was important that we hold a meeting with the chiefs, leader-to-leader,” Price-Douglas said.

In a nod to tradition, Jensen offered gifts to Esquimalt Chief Andy Thomas, and Dick stood in for Chief Ron Sam of the Songhees Nation.

As a result of that meeting, the association commissioned Dick to design and organize a team of carvers to create a pole.

“There’s a lot of history of First Nations here that’s not really well known,” she said. “The pole will reflect that history.”

The school board is also supportive, already earmarking a green space near Cadboro Bay Road for the pole to stand.

“They’re providing us with the land but we need to raise the funds for it,” Price-Douglas said.

There are tentative plans to have the carving done in the community, though it would require a large covered site.

“The high school kids can learn about First Nation culture, First Nation mythology, First Nation traditions in terms of poles,” Jensen said.

It’s a concept Price-Douglas clings to, noting everyone in the community would benefit.

 

“We want high school kids, elementary school kids, to learn not only about the craftsmanship, but the traditions,” she said. “We’re calling it a community bridging project to reflect respect, acceptance and connectivity between Coast Salish people and the Oak Bay community.”

 

 

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read