Totem in the Forest: Figures coming to life!

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Ileah Mattice

As the Hiellen pole nears its raising date, Haida Laas was able to have a quick chat with artist Kilthguulans Christian White to provide another update on the progress of the project.

“We are recreating a pole from the 1820’s, that stood on Haida Gwaii for 100 years and then stood in Prince Rupert for 50 years before returning back home on Haida Gwaii to be stored with 7idansuu Jim Hart,” said Kilthguulans. “I wish I had gone to see the pole sooner to get a full look at the designs, as it started to crack right down the middle.”

With little under a week’s time left before the raising, Kilthguulans and his team of apprentice carvers and journeymen are ready to begin painting the pole. Kilthguulans said that they are finishing up some rough surfaces with final shaping of the claws and eyes, and applying stencils in preparation for painting. They were hoping to start painting this past weekend and will add final touches to the pole onsite at Tlielang Village.

You can see how excited the apprentices are about the raising and painting of the figures, which will really bring the pole to life. Watching the carvers’ deep concentration as they work the ts’uu cedar each artist’s determination and attachment to the project is evident. The crews days and nights have become longer to ensure the pole is completed on time!


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