February 13, 2019, Vancouver, B.C. – The First Nations Education Foundation (FNEF) has released a short online video – the first in a series of videos that will document the carving of a 70-foot Language Revitalization Pole. The pole was commissioned to celebrate the United Nations’ 2019 Year of Indigenous Languages and is to be carved by renowned Nuu-chah-nulth carver Tim Paul – part of the Hesquiaht Tribe of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations.
The 4-minute online video posted by FNEF – which can be accessed here – documents the recent Pole Naming Ceremony that took place on January 23rd in the territory of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations near Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. The project team, led by carver Tim Paul, selected an 800-year old red cedar tree that fell naturally during a windstorm sometime during the past 50 to 70 years. An additional video clip is also available on the FNEF videos page showing the end cut being bucked off the massive log.
In the video, carver Tim Paul talks about the significance of the tree that was selected and what the tree represents in the context of Truth and Reconciliation: “It’s holding something of importance; the language, the key to who we are and how we are able to be the ones that survived to bring things forward. To share and be in amongst our neighbours. To give us goodwill, to give us something like this.”
Carver Tim Paul has named the pole čiiʔiłumqa – his grandmother’s name – which means “holding something of importance” in the Nuu-chah-nulth language (pronounced chee/i/thloom/kuh).
The pole carving process is being documented by filmmaker Dale Devost. The footage will later be used as content for language lessons on the FNEF platform which was developed in partnership with Six Factor, western Canada’s Leading Google Cloud Partner. The FNEF Language Revitalization Pole project has received the patronage of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, and the film footage will also be distributed to the 11,000 UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet) in over 180 countries.
Although the term “totem pole” is typically used in English to describe carved poles such as the Language Revitalization Pole, the correct term in the Nuu-chah-nulth language is č̓iin̓uł (pronounced chee/noolth) which literally means “cutting along.”
The Pole Naming Ceremony was led by Edward Johnson, the Health and Wellness Coordinator for the Huu-ay-aht First Nation. Once the Language Revitalization Pole is completed it will be gifted to the University of Victoria where it will stand, with the blessing and support of the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations, in recognition of the University’s leadership in Language Revitalization and Indigenous Studies.
Tim Paul and Forestry experts from Western Forest Products recently confirmed the physical integrity of the 800-year old red cedar tree log and arrangements are currently being made to transport the log from its current forest location to the carving location in Port Alberni. NOTE: FNEF will be advising interested media in advance of the log’s arrival at the carving location. The date for transporting the log has yet to be determined.
For additional background information on the FNEF Language Revitalization Pole project, please see the links below to online resources.
e. [email protected]
- BACKGROUNDER – FNEF and Language Revitalisation Pole
- FNEF – Language Revitalization Pole rendering for UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages 2019 – 8×11
- Draft – Tim Paul – original drawing – Language Pole
- International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL 2019) Events
- FNEF and Six Factor announce new Indigenous language app: secure, instantly available, and customizable
FNEF collaborates with First Nations governments to develop language revitalization programs for at-risk Indigenous dialects using contemporary educational practices and innovative, interactive technology. With a language revitalization pilot project currently underway in partnership with the Yuułuʔiłʔath First Nation, FNEF seeks to raise awareness about the state of Aboriginal languages in North America.
About Master Carver Tim Paul
Tim Paul was born into the house ʔaʔiiḥtaqumłʔatḥ, part of the Hesquiaht Tribe of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations. In his early days he was taught and nurtured by family elders in accordance with ancient principles of family cultural teachings, but like all Aboriginal children of his generation was removed from his family home and taken to an Indian Residential School where he was forbidden to speak his language, practice his culture, and worse. He relied heavily on his cultural education in his healing and began carving in 1975. He went on to produce prints, silkscreen designs, masks, sculptures and ceremonial paraphernalia as well as poles.
As one of Canada’s preeminent artists, his work can be seen all over the world, including at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, at the Museum of Art and Design in New York, in Exeter, England, on the grounds of Stanley Park in Vancouver, at the Vancouver International Airport, and most notably in Auckland, New Zealand where his Nuu-chah-nulth-style pole was given by the People of British Columbia to the city of Auckland in celebration of the 1990 Commonwealth Games. In addition to carving, Tim Paul has developed cultural curriculum for the Port Alberni School Board and held positions at the Royal BC Museum. He has also been the subject of several documentary films about his life and works and was awarded the BC Creative Achievement Award for First Nations Art in 2010.
About FNEF CEO Les Doiron
Les Doiron is a citizen and the elected President of the Yuułuʔiłʔath Government (the Ucluelet First Nation). He represents the Yuułuʔiłʔath to local, provincial and federal governments, other First Nations and indigenous organizations – nationally and internationally. A community minded, goal-oriented professional, Les is passionate about giving back to his community and has shared much of his life with many individuals, on a professional and volunteer basis, alike. In conjunction with FNEF volunteer Board President Rhonda Knockwood, he was instrumental in the formation of FNEF and the development of FNEF’s language revitalization projects and strategies; in particular, helping to establish the Nuu-chah-nulth (Barkley dialect) pilot project within the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Government.
About Filmmaker Dale Devost
Dale Devost has been behind a camera for over 30 years. His programs have been broadcast on CBC, APTN, and Knowledge Network and he has produced numerous documentaries including two projects that feature master carver Tim Paul: Dr. George Clutesi Curriculum Project and New Moon a Gift for the Spirit. Devost has been running his own production company out of his home on Hornby Island since 1985, with a focus on telling stories of cross-cultural understanding, arts, and the environment.
About the University of Victoria
UVic is one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities, offering life-changing, hands-on learning experiences to more than 21,000 students on the edge of the spectacular BC coast. UVic faculty, staff, and students make a critical difference on issues that matter to people, places and the planet. From language revitalization to Indigenous law, UVic researchers are working with Indigenous communities and organizations in Canada and around the world to understand, preserve and celebrate Indigenous traditions and cultures. Find out more at uvic.ca and Territory acknowledgement
About the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and FNEF
The Canadian Commission for UNESCO serves as a bridge between Canadians and the vital work of UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. By promoting UNESCO values, priorities and programs in Canada and by bringing the voices of Canadian experts to the international stage, the Commission contributes to a peaceful, equitable, and sustainable future that leaves no one behind.
About Six Factor
Six Factor is western Canada’s Leading Google Cloud Partner. The company’s Six Factor SMART (6FS) framework is the heart of their services and allows strong engagement with clients where clients own the solutions created together. Six Factor seeks to equip decision-makers with skills that help them to adopt best-in class behaviors and practices, overcome roadblocks to short and long-term success, and maximize returns on investments in technology. Six Factor’s mission is simple: craft successful value-based solutions that are easily digested in small chunks that add up incrementally to big wins. Six Factor shares FNEF’s passion for saving at-risk Indigenous languages and FNEF’s belief that an enormous technology boost is urgently needed to accomplish the task and allow future generations to successfully learn and revitalize these languages.