Naval history from 1959 was rekindled and celebrated on Sept 8 during a replica Hosaqami totem pole raising at Government House.
Approximately 1,500 people packed the front lawn awaiting the arrival of the Honourable LGov Stephen Point, First Nations Elders and Chiefs, MARPAC Commander RAdm Bill Truelove, veterans, and dignitaries.
This occasion was the result of an initiative of LGov Point and the Government House Foundation to honour the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
“You are the witnesses to this beginning,” said LGov Point to the crowd. “This pole belongs to all of us. To me it represents a new time for us all to stand in the same circle. We have to find, in this time and age, a way to paddle in one canoe.”
First Nations carver Chief Tony Hunt, the grandson of Chief Mungo Martin, who carved the original pole, was commissioned by LGov Point to carve the red cedar log into the 7.3 metre pole.
With help from his son, Tony Hunt Junior, this process took two and a half months of skilful carving behind Government House.
A 17-year-old Hunt Sr helped his 87-year-old grandfather Martin carve the original pole in Thunderbird Park Victoria. The pole was then gifted to the Royal Navy from the Royal Canadian Navy as a 50th anniversary event. It spent many years on Whale Island, in Portsmouth England, where it stood until the late 80s. Badly damaged by weather, it was returned to CFB Esquimalt where it sat outside the Chief and Petty Officer’s mess for years. In collaboration with LGov Point, Chief Hunt decided it was too badly damaged and a new pole should be carved.
“My grandfather would be very proud,” said Chief Hunt. “He was so instrumental at keeping this tradition alive. I am very happy that three generations later we are able to rekindle this,” he said.
After traditional blessings from First Nations individuals, LGov Point called on children from the audience to join about 50 people hoisting the pole into place.
Veterans Bill Shead, Gordon McBryan, and Hal LeCoy were part of the original naval escort crew who travelled to England with Hosaqami and attended the pole raising ceremony. The original Hosaqami will be ‘returned to the earth’ or allowed to naturally decompose on the grounds behind Government House, while the new pole stands proud on the front lawn.
Plaques recognizing old and new poles were unveiled, and the pole raising ceremony was followed by traditional drumming and dancing.
Shelley Lipke, Staff Writer
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