B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada U.S. border

SURREY, B.C- Three First Nations in British Columbia gathered today to raise a restored replica totem pole at a Canada-U.S. border crossing,

B.C. Premier John Horgan, front, and Hereditary Chief David Mungo Knox, back left, of the Kwakiutl First Nation, help raise a replica of a Haida totem pole September 21, 2018. DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

a decade after it was removed by the province without notice.

The Semiahmoo, Kwakwaka’wakw and Haida nations say the pole symbolizing the grizzly bear was raised near the Peace Arch crossing in the 1950s but taken down without consultation in 2008 to make way for a new tourism centre.

Members of the three nations held a ceremony at Peace Arch Provincial Park and say the removal of the pole was undignified and ignored their traditions.

They recognized deceased carver Mungo Martin for creating the pole, which was commissioned by the Royal British Columbia Museum and based on a pole in the Haida Gwaii community of Skidegate.

Premier John Horgan attended the ceremony and apologized on behalf of the province for a “historic wrong.”

He says raising the pole close to its original location is a sign of reconciliation and he will make a formal statement when the legislature reconvenes in the fall.

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