Situated on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam people, this 800-year-old red cedar pole was shipped from the Island of Haida Gwaii and carved under the direction of James Hart with the helping hands of Gwaliga Hart, John Brent Bennett, Brandon Brown, Jaalen Edenshaw, Derek White, Leon Ridley and late son Carl Hart, all of the Haida Nation of Haida Gwaii. Situated facing north on Main Mall between Agronomy Road and Thunderbird Boulevard, Reconciliation Pole recognizes the complex history of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools. The schools, instituted by the Canadian government, operated for more than 100 years, with the last school closing in 1996. The schools forcibly separated an estimated 150,000 children from their parents, families and culture. Many students died in the schools and many more suffered severe forms of psychological, physical and sexual abuse. At UBC, Reconciliation Pole joins the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre located between the Koerner Library and Barber Learning Centre in assuring that the history of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools and what they represent in our larger history will not be forgotten.
Read from bottom to top, the pole details the time before, during and after Indian Residential Schools through traditional Haida symbols and contemporary imagery. Near the top of the pole sit two boats: a canoe representing the Indigenous governances across Canada and the longboat representing the Western governance of Canada. According to Hart: “This symbolism respectfully honours differences, but most importantly displays us travelling forward together.”
Born into the Eagle Clan at Old Massett, Haida Gwaii, Haida master carver and hereditary chief 7idansuu (pronounced “ee-dan-soo”), James Hart (b. 1952), has been carving since 1979. In addition to his monumental sculptures and totem poles, which can be seen at the Museum of Anthropology on campus, he is a skilled jeweler and printmaker and considered a pioneer among Haida artists in the use of bronze casting.
Download the event program (PDF).
Watch a recording of the speeches at the event.