Regional district holds off on funding First Nations art

The Strathcona Regional District board of directors wants more information before forking out funding

The Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre on Quadra Island may have to wait even longer for the funding it needs to restore three First Nations treasures.

The centre is trying to restore the Cook Welcome Poles, important pieces of the We Wai Kai First Nation’s history, but money is tight.

Jodi Simkin, executive director of the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre in Cape Mudge, wrote to the Strathcona Regional District in November asking for some financial support for the $51,000 project.

Simkin explained that the centre is trying to secure $5,000 and requested that the regional district consider making that pledge.

The request was before the regional board at its meeting last Wednesday, Jan. 8, but directors weren’t sure the request was still valid because of the time lag.

Cortes Island Director Noba Anderson noticed the letter was dated Nov. 7 – two months prior to last week’s meeting.

Anderson wanted to know if the $5,000 was still needed.

Russ Hotsenpiller, the regional district’s chief administrative officer, said he was under the impression “there hasn’t been” any alternate funding sources made available to the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre.

Still, the board was hesitant to give out money without being sure how much is still needed.

Area D Director Brenda Leigh suggested the board discuss the matter next month.

“I’d like to refer this to the EASC (Electoral Area Services Committee) in February for consideration so we can get a report from staff to investigate to see if the request is still current,” Leigh said.

The board agreed and voted in favour of deferring the request to the Electoral Area Services Committee, which is made up of the four rural directors for areas A, B, C, and D.

The Cook Welcome Poles were carved in the mid-1970’s to commemorate the Walkus Poles, a set of three poles given to the 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.

One of the three Walkus Poles, however, was destroyed during the restoration process.

The Cook poles, made in honour of the Walkus Poles, eventually made their way to the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre and have been inside the gallery waiting to be restored .

Once they are re-commissioned, they will be returned to their rightful place – outside the front doors of the cultural centre welcoming visitors.

The poles are set to be re-carved and re-sculpted by lead carver Brad Assu.