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School District No. 43 (Coquitlam)
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Indigenous Welcome Pole Unveiling Ceremony at the new Education Learning Centre (School Board Office)

September 01, 2022



On August 30th, invited guests and SD43 trustees, leadership, and staff witnessed the awakening of the welcoming poles in the front reception are of the new Education Learning Centre. Indigenous artist and carver Brandon Gabriel of the Kwantlen First Nation created the poles and led the ceremony.

The two poles have the same design elements following a traditional Coast Salish design.

The human figure at the top holding their hands up is giving a sign of thanks and welcome, and is ready to teach, hear, and learn while the mighty thunderbird at the bottom, clears the pathways and removes any barriers that block us from achieving our goals. 

Both posts are also painted with colours from the Progress Pride Flag and stand together in the reception area as the “ultimate spiritual protectors for the space.“​



Read more about this on Tri-City News

More Information About the Totem Poles

Carver: Brandon Gabriel Kwantlen First Nation

“The Designs:

​We have decided to follow conventional traditional Coast Salish design and symbolism for our design approach. This allows for us to use teaching tools that follow ancient stories and methods, for all aged learners to be part of.


The Method:

In keeping with traditional design principals we will be using the same design, mirrored onto two pieces. Traditionally this method was used, when a master carver trained their apprentices. To demonstrate the master cuts on one piece and allow the learners to try their hands at the mirrored piece. The two pieces are inter-changeable and the master and apprentices switch back and forth in between the two works, creating consistency in execution and quality.


The Story: 

The anchor of this art piece is the story it tells. It features two different types of figures. One is the human, who is not a male or female representation, but a mixture of spirits, who wears sacred paint as they walk in between worlds: The past and present, the present and the future, young and old, male and female, neither, both. They are holding their hands up giving a sign of thanks and gratitude, and bearing no ill regard, coming in peace. Here to teach, and hear to learn, all at once.

The second figure is the mighty Thunderbird. The most powerful spirit of all. The bringer of storms, of lightening, and thunder, and the ultimate spiritual protector warding off nefarious spirits that drain resources that block the inhabitants of the world from attaining their goals and dreams. Thunderbird opens doors and clears pathways to all the realms. Thunderbird was here with Raven when the first sunrise and moonrise were born, and has been tending to matters in all the realms ever since.

The two figures standing together are the ultimate spiritual protectors for the space. “ 

School District No. 43 (Coquitlam)

1080 Winslow Avenue, Coquitlam BC
V3J 0M6
604-939-9201 604-939-7828