A new Guardian totem pole is overlooking the K’omoks Estuary, carved by artist Karver Everson.
Located next to the Courtenay Riverway overlooking the lagoon, Everson says the pole is designed to represent unity.
“This pole is a flat-back style, a common style known among the Coast Salish,” said Everson. “The top figure is a thunderbird, which is to welcome. Below that is a human figure holding its belly, full of food, and also of goodness of heart and mind.”
“Below that is the sun, and on the back is a double-headed sea-serpent. These important crests, stories and narratives come together.”
The pole is a collaborative partnership between the K’omoks First Nation and the City of Courtenay in a commitment to reconciliation, according to a release from the city and First Nation.
Courtenay mayor Bob Wells said the city was honoured to support the project.
“We’re so pleased the Courtenay Riverway was chosen as one of the locations for the Guardian Pole Project. We truly value our relationship with K’ómoks First Nation, and are committed to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples,” said Wells.
“The collaboration on the raising of this beautiful new pole on unceded K’ómoks Territory is one visible and tangible way we can demonstrate this commitment.”
The Guardian Pole Project was launched in 2014. Since them poles have been raised at Goose Spit in Comox, Salmon River in Sayward, Puntledge reserve lands, the K’ómoks First Nation cemetery, Hornby Island, Denman Island, and the Comox Valley Art Gallery.
For Everson, he says creating poles like these bring a connection to his heritage.
“When we do this work, I am reminded of our ancestors, our great-grandparents, our parents, our cousins,” he said. “Despite the potlach ban, despite residential schools, they kept doing that important cultural work that makes us who we are today.”
“This work is about the next generation, to give them roots, and an understanding of who they are and where they come from.”