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Quadra Island totem pole restoration needs more funding

The Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre on Quadra Island is hoping the Strathcona Regional District can come through with a significant donation to help restore an important piece of history.

The centre is in the process of trying to restore the Cook Welcome Poles which are a part of the We Wai Kai First Nation’s heritage.

Jodi Simkin, executive director of the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre in Cape Mudge, wrote a letter to the regional district asking for some financial support for the $51,000 project.

“In order to bring the project to completion we are needing to secure a contribution of $5,000 and are requesting that the regional district consider making this pledge,” Simkin wrote. “Your donation will be recognized on the on-site signage, as well as in our annual report and website.”

The project has already locked up community partnerships with TimberWest, the Pallan Group and Ocean Pacific Marine to help bring the project to fruition, but funding is still needed in order to get the poles back up in their rightful position.

The history of the poles dates back to the 1880’s.

A set of three poles, called the Walkus poles, was given to John Dick of the We Wai Kai by Chief Numus Walkus of River’s Inlet as part of a dowry for his niece.

The poles sat on the beach until the 1950’s when they were taken down in order to be preserved and given to the Museum at Campbell River.

However, one of the three poles was destroyed during the restoration process.

More than 20 years later, in the mid-1970’s, Dora Cook, Eugene Alfred and Bob Neil carved a new set of three poles, named the Cook poles, to commemorate the Walkus poles.

The poles originally stood outside the cultural centre to welcome guests but after the centre was closed for renovations and then re-opened, the Cook poles were eventually placed inside the gallery.

The centre’s intent is to refurbish the poles and erect them outside the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre to continue the welcoming tradition.

The poles need to be re-carved and re-sculpted, according to Simkin. The lead carver is Brad Assu. Simkin made a presentation on the poles, asking for funding, to the regional district at its July 10 board meeting but a decision was not made at the time.

The regional district will consider Simkin’s latest letter appealing for funding at its board meeting today.

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