About this project
*****Thanks everyone for helping us make our goal!!! The Stretch goal is $25,000. We still need to get steel fabrication done for the base of the pole. That is an extra $5,000. Also, We will be having a proper ceremony to raise our pole...the stretch amount will allow us to cover some of the costs of this huge community event, which will be an open invitation to members of the Downtown Eastside community and beyond, so we expect a lot of people. This will include paying elders for the ceremonies and providing food for everyone. We also would like to be able to give our artist a bonus for all of her hard work.*****
Respected Elders, Friends in the Downtown Eastside Community & Beyond
We humbly ask for your support to raise a Survivors Totem Pole in the Downtown Eastside (DTES), Unceded Coast Salish Territory in September 2014. We do this in honour of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations on whose territory our community lies.
The Survivors Totem Pole
The Survivors Totem Pole is a grassroots community art and action project. The raising of the totem pole will be a huge, unforgettable event. The event will be more than symbolic, the pole will also bring art, beauty and healing to an already important gathering place; that Aboriginal and other residents have enjoyed together for over 100 years. It will give the Downtown Eastside community a feeling of pride, safety and connection to the land. This pole will also connect people from the Downtown Eastside with the traditional holders of this land – the Coast Salish people. The pole represents community survival and will be a lasting symbol of resistance, persistence and inclusion.
Our journey to raise this pole includes building stronger connections between Coast Salish Nations, Urban Aboriginal people, and other communities impacted by racism and other forms of exclusion. Human Rights Activist Artists from these communities will be invited to paint the pole after it is carved.
About artist Skundaal
Skundaal (Bernie Williams), from the Haida and Coast Salish Nations, is the master carver on this project. She is the only female apprentice of the late master Haida carver, Bill Reid, and is a long-time Downtown Eastside resident and activist. See full bio for more info.
For the people, by the people
Strengthening the bonds of solidarity between different parts of Downtown Eastside communities is especially important at this time when residents are now facing mass displacement. In January 2014, we had a gathering and feast with Elders, family, and friends who represented the oldest members of the communities and are linked to the human rights struggles here. We talked about displacement from Indigenous lands, the "60's scoop" and residential school, Chinese Head Tax, Race Riots, Komagata Maru, Asian Exclusion Act, Japanese Internment, destruction of Vancouver's only African Canadian community - Hogan's Alley, exclusion and violence against migrant people of colour, and the current displacement of low-income people. Sharing these painful stories with each other helped foster deeper relations between communities, past and present. Our struggles are one.
We need your help
With your help, Skundaal will work with apprentices for 3 months (June- August 2014) to carve the pole to completion. This includes adding the copper and the coordination of artists, children, and community members from the different cultures involved and completing the pole by painting it together.
You can help us keep this dream alive and bring the Survivors Totem Pole to completion. Allowing us to build upon the leadership, momentum and support that we've already garnered.
We are grateful for support at whatever level is right for you
We are aiming to raise $15,000 to complete the carving. We have some creative gifts to give back to you for your support. See the full list for complete details, but the gifts include: tours, lunch at the carving studio, and your name engraved on a plaque on the pole.
Skundaal is also offering some of her art as gifts: tattoo designs of the totem animals, and carved silver and copper jewelry (such as this Bear Mother pendant below).
Our goal is to raise $15,000 from this campaign to complete the carving. We already raised funds to pay for the cost of the log, its transportation from Haida Gwaii, initial supplies and the costs associated with setting up the carving studio. Our rent and other key components of the project were secured in kind.
The 980 year old, 30 foot, red cedar log is not easy to handle and has been a labour of love to move, store, skin, design and prepare for carving. We want to raise $12,500 to pay for Skundaal's time and expertise as the main carver and coordinator of the project.
Remember this is an "all or nothing" campaign, so it's really important we reach our target!
Stretch Goal: If we go over the target and there is still time remaining in our Kickstarter Campaign, we would like to raise enough funds (an additional $10,000) to give Skundaal a bonus for completing the project, cover expenses for the big Block Party and Pole Raising Ceremony, and complete a printed collection of images and the stories of the people involved.
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How'aa (Thank you's)
Hands up in gratitude to Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Squamish Hereditary Chief Bill Williams, Elders Woodrow Morrison, Wilfred Price and Sonny Baker for their support of this project. Also a special thank you to the Portland Hotel Society for their ongoing support.
Also thank you to the Sacred Circle Society Board of Directors: Hereditary Chief Bill Williams, Elder Wilfred Price, Elder Woodrow Morrison, Skundaal/Bernie Williams, Tomiye Ishida, Sid Tan, Herb Varley and Wendy Pedersen for all the work you have done to bring the Survivor's Totem Pole to where it is today.
Jeff Lee Petry, thank you for making the lovely film about Skundaal and the project. Greg Masuda, thank you for ongoing support, your film footage and animation. Cris Derksen, we are honoured that you allowed us to use your music in the film. Your cello music is beautiful! Murray Bush, thanks for always being there to support, with photos and poster design. Britta Fluvog, thank you for helping us with ideas for Kickstarter.
Last but not least, the Sacred Circle Society would like to thank the wonderful young organizers who are working hard to get the word out about this project: Melissa Fong, Justin Wiebe, Kweegaay Iiwaans, Carven Cheuk Fung Li, Rose Siccama and Victor Jerome Ryan. This wouldn't be possible without you. xo
Risks and challenges
We are a group of activists involved in various struggles for justice: Ending Violence Against Women and Children, Chinese Head Tax Reparation, Japanese Canadian Human Rights, Ending Homelessness, Social Enterprise. We have a variety of skills from media production, social work, non-profit management, opening restaurants, organizing campaigns and major events. We all have extensive fundraising experience and networks and already raised significant funds to cover the cost of the log, its transport and supplies.
It is important that we raise this pole now. The Downtown Eastside is undergoing rapid development. Many residents are facing displacement. There is momentum from key Coast Salish and community leaders to navigate the support needed from state governments to make this happen. Ideally, the Witnessing Ceremony and Pole Raising Ceremony will happen during the traditional time (end of September) that West Coast Communities, would normally raise their poles. If we don't raise enough funds before then, we will have to delay the project and will risk losing our momentum.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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