A newly raised totem pole at Port Alberni’s waterfront is a mother for all of the lost children who never returned home from residential school, according to the carver behind the multi-year project.
During the unveiling of n̓aasn̓aasʔaqsa (pronounced ‘naas naas uksah’), Tim Paul tied the creation to news that disturbed people across Canada this year. With hundreds standing under the 37-foot structure by the Victoria Quay, the carver referenced the discovery of unmarked graves at several former residential school sites over the past summer.
“In the past few months we’ve been starting to hear about the discoveries of lost children,” said Linus Lucas, speaking on behalf of Paul, his fellow Hesquiaht member. “He wants this figure to represent a mother for all those lost children so that they have a home to come to. This figure will be recognized as our mother, and will be here for eternity. For all of our lost children that are going to be discovered, they will have a place to come home and be in the arms of their mother.”