Filled with traditional First Nation blessings, gifting of blankets and witnesses, the Community Association of Oak Bay’s grassroots initiative to raise a pole at Oak Bay High came to fruition with a ceremony that spread good energy Sunday.
“I’m honoured to be up here today, not only to share this time with my family but to embrace an opportunity for us to work together in the spirit of Sno’uyutth, creating that good energy, those good feelings that help us so we move forward not only as communities but as individuals,” said Bradley Dick, who led the ceremonies at the high school on Nov. 22.
“We have the good fortune of walking in two worlds … In our traditional ways it means in one hand I learn to walk with the respect and teachings of my ancestors and my family. And in this hand I learn to walk with my extended family and our family who have joined us on our traditional territories and to learn and to respect and take responsibility for that relationship as well.”
Drummers led the procession of local dignitaries, including Songhees and Esquimalt chiefs as well as Oak Bay’s mayor.
“Today is indeed a historic day,” said Mayor Nils Jensen. “It’s a moment of great importance to our community because it marks another step in our reconciliation with First Nations. It is another bright light that shines our path to the future, a path we now walk together.
“Our community acknowledges that there were dark times in the past and while we’ve come a long way from those dark days we still have a long way to go. The pole will serve to light the way and be a constant reminder of the richness of our First Nation heritage, a heritage we all celebrate with this pole.”
The pole, call Sno’uyutth, started as a dream of the CAOB in early 2014. They commissioned well-known Songhees carver Butch Dick to design it, and his son, talented carver Clarence Dick, led the carving over months to transform a cedar log into Sno’uyutth, which translates to “spreading good energy.”
It was officially unveiled during the ceremony, and now resides at Oak Bay High, where School District 61 takes ownership.
“I sincerely thank Butch Dick, a Songhees Nation elder, acclaimed artist and an education activist for his vision for Sno’uyutth, and his son Clarence Dick, a veteran Songhees carver who spent countless hours carving the Sno’uyutth pole,” said Edith Loring-Kuhanga, school board chair.
“Sno’uyutth means spreading good energy. Having the Lekwungen people spread good energy to all of our students and staff at Oak Bay High School and the visitors who come to this area is a reminder that this is a traditional territories of Lekwungen people.
“The pole will definitely help promote mutual respect between the students, staff and visitors.”
They CAOB, working with the Rotary Club of Oak Bay, fundraised about $90,000 for the project.
“On behalf of the Community of Association of Oak Bay I’d really like to thank you for being involved in this legacy-creating community event today,” said Kris Nichols, president of the CAOB.
“So many of you have stepped up to support the project by donating money, by participating in our fundraising events and by providing your expertise.”