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Reconciliation Pole

Honouring a Time Before, During and After Canada's Indian Residential Schools

James Hart

A pole-raising event will be held on April 1, 2017. This website will be updated with details as they are confirmed.

The University of British Columbia has partnered with a private donor to commission the carving of a 55-foot pole by 7idansuu, James Hart, Haida master carver and Hereditary Chief.

The Reconciliation Pole is one of two UBC initiatives that aim to capture the long trajectory of Indigenous and Canadian relations and to ensure that one part of that, the history of Canada’s Indian residential schools, will never be forgotten. The other initiative is the construction of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre, located between the Koerner Library and the Barber Learning Centre, which is scheduled for completion in 2018. Both the pole and the centre will be located on the Vancouver campus on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Musqueam people.

Reconciliation Pole honours the many complex aspects of reconciliation as it relates to Canada’s Indian Residential Schools. Both the pole and the Dialogue Centre will give students and visitors a means for understanding the history, injustices and lasting effects of Indian Residential Schools on Indigenous people and Canadian society as a whole, as well as promoting a way of moving forward together towards a more respectful future.

The pole is carved in the Haida sculptural tradition, which is stylistically distinct from Musqueam and other Coast Salish carving. The Musqueam, on whose traditional lands this pole will be raised, are noted for their house posts, often sculpted to represent ancestral figures. At the Museum of Anthropology is a Welcome Figure and set of house posts, carved in 1997 by Musqueam artist Susan Point; they are located outside the entrance and on the path alongside the Museum. A Musqueam Double-Headed Serpent Post by Brent Sparrow Jr. was raised in 2016 on University Boulevard, facing the UBC campus entrance.

For the Haida people today, carving new totem poles and raising them publicly is a way of honouring their history and art traditions, and carrying both forward into present-day social and political relationships.

Reconciliation Pole is currently located behind the Museum of Anthropology where James Hart and his assistants are completing the final details. They will be working there until mid-November after which time the pole will be stored until its raising. Visitors are welcome to view the pole until its completion.

Please visit www.ceremonies.ubc.ca/reconciliation-pole for further information about the pole raising event.


About the artist

Born in 1952 into the Eagle Clan at Old Massett, Haida Gwaii, Haida master carver and Hereditary Chief 7idansuu, James Hart, has been carving since 1979. In addition to his monumental sculptures and totem poles, he is a skilled jeweller and printer and is considered a pioneer among Haida artists in the use of bronze casting.

Hart’s experience with carving and raising poles is extensive. In 1982, he completed a freestanding pole for the UBC Museum of Anthropology that replicated an old Haida pole, and raised it in the traditional style on the MOA grounds. In 1999, he raised a memorial pole at his home village of Old Massett on Haida Gwaii, to honour his uncle and ancestors. At this time, Hart received his name as a Haida Hereditary Chief, 7idansuu (pronounced “ee-dan-soo”). This name was once held by the master artist Charles Edenshaw (c. 1839-1920), from whom Hart is descended. In 2000, Hart’s Respect to Bill Reid Pole was raised on the MOA grounds, to replace the weathered house-frontal pole carved by Bill Reid and Doug Cranmer four decades earlier. Hart has produced many other significant works, often working with his sons, assistants and apprentices. His Bill Reid Memorial Pole now stands at the Bill Reid Gallery in downtown Vancouver; the Three Watchmen with casts are displayed in British Columbia and Ottawa; he supervised the construction of the Haida House in the Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum of Civilization; and he restored a nineteenth-century Haida pole for the Smithsonian Institution in New York City. Between 2009 and 2013, Hart created, designed and carved The Dance Screen (The Scream Too), a monumental sculpture that now resides at the Audain Art Museum in Whistler, BC. He has created other poles at Old Massett and Skidegate, BC; San Francisco and Los Angeles, CA; Helsingborg, Sweden; Pau, France; and Lausanne, Switzerland. James Hart was awarded the Order of British Columbia in 2003, and an Honourary Doctorate of Letters by the Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design in 2004.

For further information please contact: Jana Tyner at jana.tyner@ubc.ca,
tel: (604) 822-1389, or fax: (604) 822-6689