One of two long house poles is erected Thursday in the foyer at Ladysmith Secondary School as part of a nutsumaat syassys (working together as one) project. From left: aboriginal educator Moira Dolan

Longhouse poles symbols of welcoming connections

Project six years in the making anticipated to be completed next year

Rick StiebelThe Chronicle

The Nutsumaat Syaays project took another leap skyward with the erection of the second of four long house poles in the foyer at Ladysmith Secondary School.

Working Together as One is a fitting name for the work which has been in the making for six years, said Ladysmith Secondary School drama teacher Bill Taylor.

“It’s gratifying to see people working together on something like  this and this project symbolizes that,” Taylor noted. “It’s great to see some of the visuals becoming part of the school.”

The goal of Nutsumaat Syaays is to make the school a welcoming and supporting place for all students, he added.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunities this will provide for sharing future stores and learning methods,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s about trying to open our minds to a different way of knowing and being in the world.”

Coast Salish artist John Marston has been working on carving the poles for a year and expects the project will take another year to complete.

“It’s been a great experience so far,” Marston said. “I couldn’t have completed any of the work without the support of everyone involved in the project and the community. It’s a good example of working together. The most important part for me is that it will make lasting connections.”

Aboriginal educator Moira Dole said the long house poles are much more than an a theme of reconciliation or an arts project.

“It’s about bringing First Nations culture and knowledge into our schools and sharing that with all students,” she said. The eagle is very symbolic of rising up. They bring us all not just to higher level of learning and understanding, they bring us all together. They look absolutely amazing.”

Organizers have raised about 60 per cent of the $75,000 goal.