Skip to content

City of North Van considers chipping in $10,000 for new totem pole

The City of North Vancouver is considering making a $10,000 contribution to a totem pole in Stella Jo Dean plaza intended to offer strength and solace for women who have suffered violence. The idea for the pole emerged during the Dec.
jody

The City of North Vancouver is considering making a $10,000 contribution to a totem pole in Stella Jo Dean plaza intended to offer strength and solace for women who have suffered violence.

The idea for the pole emerged during the Dec. 6, 2016 march for murdered and missing Indigenous women, explained RCMP Cpl. Crystal Shostak.

“I recognized that the North Shore lacked a permanent place where community members could go whenever they needed to draw strength or reflect on the many lives affected by gender-based violence,” she said during a recent city council meeting.

Situated near the RCMP detachment and surrounded by a daycare, the monument offers safety as well as a way to remember the 14 women murdered by Marc Lepine at École Polytechnique.

Council’s reaction was supportive, with Coun. Pam Bookham noting the “very reasonable cost” of the project. With the 25-foot old-growth red cedar log donated by Squamish Nation Chief Bill Williams at no cost, the total price of the project is expected to be slightly more than $45,000.

“Either way, I would like to see this supported,” Bookham said.

Coun. Linda Buchanan said she wholeheartedly supported the project, noting it would provide a place for: “reflection and remembrance.”

“Your timing couldn’t be more perfect, considering the Me Too project,” Coun. Holly Back concurred.

While it’s “not necessarily put in stone yet,” the totem pole will likely be carved by Coast Salish artist Jody Broomfield.

While he’s not sure what the pole will look like when he’s finished, Broomfield is adamant he wants to honour women with a female figure.

“It’s a dark history for not only First Nations but for all people.”

The placement of the monument near the RCMP detachment is critical, said North Shore Women’s Centre executive director Michelle Dodds.

“In the past, maybe there has been that concern or fear of reaching out to police,” she said.

Violence against women becomes increasingly complex when the violence is committed in a long-term relationship, Dodds said.

“It’s harder to come forward. There’s more at stake, often there’s children involved,” she said. “How does a woman make a decision to start out on her own when the housing is so unaffordable?”

Part of the reason behind the totem pole is to underline the severity of violence against women throughout the community and the country, Dodds said.

“It’s still really considered to be a personal, individual problem or a family problem as opposed to a social issue,” she said.

Council is expected to revisit the possibility of funding the totem pole at their Nov. 6 meeting.

Following a motion from Coun. Don Bell, city council is also considering becoming a partner in the Be More Than a Bystander initiative along with the BC Lions.

The campaign is intended to encourage bystanders to speak out and stand up to gender violence.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks