A raising ceremony was held for a Welcome Figure at Xwa'w'chayay (Porteau Cove Provincial Park) on May 25.
The Welcome Figure was designed and carved by two Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) carvers, Neil Baker and Delmar Joseph, with the help of students at St’a7mes School in Squamish. The raising ceremony was attended by about 200 people, including many students from the school itself.
Before the pole was raised upright, a ceremony to “open up the eyes of the pole” was held, said one of the speakers at the event. Cedar branches dipped in water from Shannon Falls were used to bless the pole.
Afterwards, staff from Blue Water Concepts Ltd. helped raise the pole to its perch, which is located near the walk-in campsites at the south end of the park. A celebration song was held after the figure was in place.
Joseph spoke to the crowd and listed some of the designs on the pole, which included wildlife native to the Sea to Sky Corridor, red hands to represent the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and orange hands to represent Every Child Matters.
The top, said Joseph, was a depiction of his grandfather Chief Larry Joseph in a thunderbird mask.
Overall, Joseph said the pole was a symbol for Truth and Reconciliation.
Blue Water Concepts Ltd., Marine Life Sanctuaries Society and BC Parks partnered on the project.