Monday July 5, 2010
City Hall Report
A crafted gift of reconcilliation
Lt.-Gov. Steven Point prepares to launch his carved canoe "Shxwtitostel " in April.
hat started with a walk on the beach near Government House in Victoria ended with a ceremony and a paddle in the chuck for Lt.-Gov. Steven Point.
Lt.-Gov. Point came across a partially carved log on the beach and found it an intriguing piece. Without knowing when the log was initially he decided to finish what someone else started and took it away and off to finish the carving.
What he ended up with was a canoe that was modeled after the mythical Cultus Lake creature "Slahkum." Lt. Gov. Point's carving skills were evident on all sides however on the bottom, he whittled the creature's face with intricate precision and added dorsal fins.
Prior to the slide show presentation, Wilson told council that she was excited to be there to share her tale. They were there to be witness to the ceremony and were happy to be able to share that with city council.
Wilson began by telling council that they were honoured to be a part of the launching ceremony of the canoe dubbed Shxwtitostel which means a "safe place to cross the river."
Lt.-Gov. Point working on Shxwtitostel in October 2009.
"In January, I read in our local press that Lt Governor Steven Point, with the help of noted artist, Tony Hunt, was carving a small river canoe from a log found on the beach from government house in Victoria," she said.
When Wilson read that the canoe carving had a local connection, she wrote the government asking if they would bring it to Cultus Lake.
"It caught my attention that it was being modeled after a mythical creature called "Slahkum" that lived in Cultus Lake and with the endorsement of the executive of Community Support Association, Dave and I wrote to Government House to ask if the canoe could come to Cultus Lake and possibly for the annual canoe races," she said adding that "A few weeks later we were delighted to receive an invitation to the launch and the honouring ceremony."
During the slide show with photographs of the events, Clyne talked about where the log that was used for the canoe was found.
"His honour found the log about a year before on the same beach and it already had been partially carved and they don't know how long ago it was carved, whether it was decades or longer than that ago, but he got the idea from that and carved us a river canoe," he said.
The canoe, in the same style of ones used in ancient times to harpoon fish at night. A small fire placed in the bow would attract the fish and a woven grass blind was used to conceal the person in the boat.
Clyne said he was impressed at how well the Lt.-Gov. handled the craft in the water despite a stiff wind.
"I do canoeing and kayaking, this was a very heavy boat," said Clyne.
A blanket ceremony with traditional dancing took place later in the ballroom at Government House honouring everyone from the people making coffee to those toting the log from the beach to where it was to be carved.
Throughout much of the day Chief Hunt wore a 200-year-old Tlingit blanket woven by his grandmother who spent two-years making it.
Wilson said that she had a special interest in the blanket because she has a background in textiles and weaving.
"I actually touched it," she said. "That was a real thrill for me."
Clyne and Wilson brought with them a royal blue blanket with white trim and a native design on it that was given to them by Lt-Gov. Point. The blankets are stood on during the ceremony and later given away to those participating.
Wilson told council that a woman found an ancient stone anchor in Agassiz that was added later to the canoe.
"This project was totally by his honour and is a gift to the province."
Wilson and Clyne show their gifted blanket Monday at City Hall.
As to when the tiny craft will ply Cultus Lake waters, there has been no firm date set and the Association was assured that at some point on it's tour of the province, that it will stop at Cultus Lake.
Wilson said in closing that "We look forward to the arrival of 'Shxwtitostel' in our community, its a gift from his honour to the province and a symbol of unity and reconciliation among our various peoples."
Mayor Sharon Gaetz concluded with a comment about how well the couple had paid attention to the details of the ceremony.
Lt. Gov-Point takes his craft for a test run.
"It's really important in Sto:lo culture to talk about the details to pass them on to generations to come, thank you," said Gaetz.
Editors note: The words Patlatch Kanim is Chinook jargon for "giving the canoe."
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