Rhonda Lee McIsaac —
Artist Kilthguulans Christian White takes time out of his lunch hour to provide an update on the progress of the work going into the Totem in the Forest project. There are only 20 days left before the new pole is raised at Tlielang beside the river and within sight of the trail to the blowhole.
In the workshop, the apprentice carvers and journeymen have been busy working on the final shapes of the totem.
“We recently went down to the old pole in Gaaw and took tracings of the fine detail items like eyes, fingers and teeth,” Kilthguulans says. These details will be added to the new pole and carved out for the final rendering of the pole.
As work continues the carvers are also making time for community and school groups from other BC communities to visit the work site.
“Some are regular tours and others are new ones, but they are all showing interest,”Kilthguulans says.
The apprentices are learning how to handle the distractions and continue their work with care. The seven youth have been showing up regularly and are taking more initiative with the encouragement of White and his journeymen. “It’s nice to see them stepping up,” says Kilthguulans, adding that despite other priorities in their lives, the carving project remains first [ …] on their list. They’ve grown so much!” he says.
As the tracing and carving of fine details continue they are working towards painting the pole in the last week before it is raised. The pole will be trucked to the site a couple days prior to the raising and the team will finish the project on site.
“I was out there recently looking at a site. We had to prune some trees,” Kilthguulans explains. The sight lines for the pole are important he says as he hopes it will a sight to behold!
“[The actual raising of the pole] will have a picnic-like atmosphere,” said Kilthguulans. The pole’s location will be near the roadway and the trail head parking lot area at Tlielang. Citizens and visitors are asked to carpool as much as possible to minimize parking issues onsite and bring your own potlatch cutlery and chairs for comfort. Mary Disney and Myrna Bell-Wilson are organizing the event.
“This is where it gets intense. I’m in the shop daily from 8-5pm and then from 7 to 10 or 11 or whenever I can’t stand up anymore,” Kilthguulans says with seriousness … but quickly laughs.