Cowichan carvers don't make the cut for centennial pole
The city of Duncan’s totem committee is defending its choice of artist to carve the centennial totem pole.
From among seven applicants, including many local artists, the committee has chosen Calvin Hunt from Fort Rupert near Port Hardy—on the Island but nowhere close to Cowichan.
City councillor and committee chair, Michelle Staples, said all artists who applied for the job are qualified but the six others did not fulfill the requirements the city was looking for.
“They didn’t capture the story of the community. That was what was in the original request for proposals,” she said. “And this is the one that captured the story.”
Hunt, from the Kwagu'l First Nation on northern Vancouver Island, will carve a 34-foot totem, bigger than the 30-foot one requested by the city.
On the back of the pole, there will be five salmon representing the five original Cowichan Valley tribes, as well as fish weirs and splashes representing the mountains and rivers.
The city's namesake, William Duncan, will also be represented on the totem with his farm Alderlea, around which the city grew.
Judy Hill has been on the city's totem committee for over 20 years and said Hunt’s submission seemed to stick out.
“It had a lot of things,” she said. “And also his references as far as coming in on budget and on time, and all those things which were really important to us.”
Hill said the other applicants were asking for a lot more money than what the city had budgeted for the project.
Hunt estimates he will take three months to carve the totem once he secures a first-growth log. The committee is hoping it will be ready by the fall.
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