November 5, 2019, Vancouver, B.C. – The First Nations Education Foundation (FNEF) announced today that they have agreed to keep the FNEF Language Revitalization Pole in Port Alberni in response to increasing community calls for it to remain in the city. The carving phase of the project is approaching completion and the next phase, in which the pole will be raised, will now follow in 2020.
FNEF Executive Director, Scott Jeary, says the non-profit First Nations Education Foundation has always seen itself as the facilitator of the project not the owner. He says the group is more than happy to oblige the wishes of the local First Nations and the Port Alberni community; and with full support from UVic which is where the Language Revitalization Pole was originally to have been raised and located once completed.
“The mandate of the FNEF Language Revitalisation Pole is to raise awareness of the plight of Indigenous languages and shine a spotlight on the importance of revitalizing these languages, while also celebrating the great work that is being accomplished in this field,” said Scott Jeary. “We have always taken the approach that we are just the facilitators of the Language Revitalization Pole project, not the owners of a commissioned work of art. We are really pleased with the way the Port Alberni community has rallied around the project and how they’ve made it their own and taken it to heart.”
Jeary also notes that, in the early days of the project, UVic had kindly agreed to serve as the location for the Pole once it was completed in order to provide broad public access to it in a respectful setting: “The folks at UVic have been great throughout the project and incredibly supportive. When we advised them of the broad, increasing support in the Port Alberni community for the pole to remain there, they were 100 percent onside with the new plan and I want to thank them for that,” said Jeary.
Once the carving phase of the Pole project is completed, a traditional ceremony will take place to close the eyes of the Pole and lay it at rest until the eyes are opened again when it is raised. The pole raising in Port Alberni, and the ceremony to open the eyes, is planned to take place in the spring of 2020.
A fundraising Gala is also being held on November 22 to help support the project. The Gala is being hosted by The Owls Path of Port Alberni featuring Indigenous eco-fashion designer NoMinNoU. Information and tickets for the event can be found on Facebook at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/events/535812040564591/.
- 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
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- MEDIA RELEASE: First Nations Education Foundation invites Canadians to help “Raise the Pole”