Carving a Connection in Cowichan – A Commemorative Totem for Canada’s 150th

Cowichan Valley residents and visitors will be given a unique opportunity to try their hand at carving a totem pole in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Funded by the Government of Canada through the Canada 150 Fund, the totem pole will take shape throughout the year in a central and highly visible location in downtown Duncan, where the public will be able to watch the carver at work and view the totem progress. Schools and community groups will be invited to participate in the carving process, and the totem will travel to community events to engage even more of Cowichan’s communities and residents in the project.

“We look forward to raising the totem at a public ceremony once it is complete,” said Mayor Kent, “the Cowichan Valley’s cultural identity is inextricably linked to Coast Salish First Nations heritage, and this new totem will be a lasting reminder not only of the milestone event, but also of Cowichan’s important place within Canada during the nation’s first 150 years.”

“The 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017 marks an important moment for our nation,” said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. “The ‘Carving a Connection in Cowichan—a Commemorative Totem for Canada 150’ is a unique project that will help strengthen the links that unite Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Thousands of people will witness the carving of this totem, which will focus on the history of the Cowichan Valley in British Columbia, up until 2017. Together, we will celebrate our past and look toward the future in order to leave a legacy for future generations.”

“I am proud to support this exciting project in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. As Duncan is known as the City of Totems, I could not think of a better place for the public carving of a new totem pole.  It will help to create excitement and understanding about our community’s First Nations history and traditions, while marking this historic anniversary,” said Alistair MacGregor, Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford.

The City of Duncan, which is located in the Cowichan Valley within traditional Coast Salish territory on southern Vancouver Island, is renowned for its treasured outdoor collection of hand carved totems.

The City is seeking applications for a project manager and proposals from artists interested in undertaking this project.



Media contact:

Peter de Verteuil, CAO
City of Duncan