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Spirit pole gets local touch

Squamish residents young and old have made their mark on the Spirit Pole.

Squamish residents young and old have made their mark on the Spirit Pole. The 20-foot red cedar pole is making its way across British Columbia as members of the public help transform the log into a ceremonial story pole to be raised at the opening of the Cowichan 2008 North American Indigenous Games.The pole tour has been sponsored by BC 150, which marks the province's 150th birthday since becoming a crown colony. The 13-week tour kicked off in Lake Cowichan on May 1. The pole will be brought to 50 communities across the province. On Tuesday (May 13) it came to the Squamish Adventure Centre where school groups, members of Squamish Nation and local politicians were just a few of the people waiting anxiously to take hold of a carving tool."I think it's cool," said Cedar Valley School student Shondra Martin, who said the only other thing she has carved is a sword for her little sister.Her classmate was equally smitten by the opportunity."I think it's amazing that we actually get the chance to carve," said Tayo Lafond. "It's like an honour."Master carver Carey Newman, who designed the pole, was on hand to help each person carve a small section. As children and adults made their mark on it, he followed up with a few strokes of the carving tool, smoothing out their marks. He said no major mistakes have been made yet."We're still early in the journey though," he said with a laugh. The exercise has been designed to minimize irreversible slip-ups."We're doing general shaping, then I do the little details at the end. So we're not too concerned he said." Newman said. "With carving, if you make a mistake, you just incorporate it into the carving."Squamish Nation elder Marjorie Natrall was one of the first people in Squamish to carve the pole. Although her husband and son were carvers, she said she has little experience doing it herself. "Well, I tried to make a bird once," she said with a smile. "I couldn't even draw."Each person who chipped away at the pole was sent away with the curled flakes of red cedar in an envelope documenting their participation."I've got my chips right here with me," said Coun. Corinne Lonsdale after carving her own section. The pole is now headed to Chilliwack and Abbotsford.

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