Still in its final stages of carving, the Sno’uyutth pole project is already responsible for a year of spreading good energy and building community, say the project’s co-leaders.
Even before the Community Association of Oak Bay commissioned Butch Dick to create the pole, Gail Price-Douglas called it “a community bridging project to reflect respect, acceptance and connectivity between Coast Salish people and the Oak Bay community.”
Both that goal, and the roughly $88,500 needed to raise the artwork, are complete.
“We’re excited, we’re also relieved,” said Price-Douglas. “All of us have put in hundreds and hundreds of hours because we believe in the project.”
More than a year ago the CAOB commissioned Songhees master carver Butch Dick to design a pole to adorn the new Oak Bay High.
He created Sno’uyutth, which means “spreading good energy” and the community association tasked his son Clarence Dick as lead carver.
Fundraising initiatives included music nights at The Oaks restaurant and each of those events built community, said Joe Blake, co-leader of the pole project.
“The last one did really well because ScotiaBank (Oak Bay) partnered with us,” said Joe Blake, who co-ordinated the entertainment series. The final event featuring Mike Demers raised $5,500, up from the $2,000 to $3,000 average.
“We were lucky Joe had all these connections with all these musicians,” Price-Douglas said.
Aside from the series of concerts and auctions, there were grants, including $20,000 from the municipality over two budget years.
Alongside the hundreds of volunteers and donors throughout the campaign, businesses repeatedly came through for silent auctions and the Rotary Club of Oak Bay offered advice and tax receipt services.
“This project is so different because of the community involvement. It’s owned by the community,” Price-Douglas said. “It’s really been a grassroots project. We really involved a lot of people.”
“They bought in, and they bought in right from the beginning,” Blake agreed.
Donors who offered $1,000 or more will get public recognition on a sign that will also reach out and educate passersby as they stop to look at the pole.
It will outline meanings of each segment of the totem topped with a symbol of Mother Earth that includes carvings of coho salmon, camas and other symbols of health, wealth and new beginnings.
Those will also be outlined in a booklet by Clarence Dick, slated to be featured on the CAOB website, that includes history of village sites, family names and structures and more about the Lekwungen-speaking people.
“We’re doing a booklet, it’s all around the vision from concept to raising,” Price-Douglas said. “It’s a second legacy really and it will be in the school system.”
“So the students will have something to go with the pole,” Blake added.
The community association hopes it will develop, continue and grow as an educational component on historical knowledge of local First Nations.
Both artists, Butch and Clarence, will be on hand along with other First Nation representatives, drummers and other local dignitaries for the dedication ceremony and official reveal on Nov. 22 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Oak Bay High near the big sequoia tree.