In June 2019, a Welcome Pole was unveiled at Bowen Island Community School (BICS). It was a great privilege for me to be able to attend the ceremony and also witness some of the carving of the Pole.
I have created a new short movie “Celebrating the Welcome Pole” about the carving and unveiling of the Welcome Pole (see below), which was shown at the Bowen Island Film Festival a couple of weeks ago.
The Pole was a collaboration between the carver, Simon James, members of Squamish Nation who led the blessing ceremonies, and students and staff of BICS. Simon, whose ancestral Kwakwaka’wakw Nation name is Winadzi, designed the Pole based on input from BICS students, and so includes a wolf wearing a police officer’s hat, and an eagle holding a book that represents educators.
Squamish Nation member Ywalacktun led both the ceremony to bless the log before carving commenced, as well as the unveiling ceremony that brought the Welcome Pole to life. Sam Dawson, of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, also assisted with the ceremony, as did Jada Harry, the BICS Aboriginal Success Teacher, who is also known as Temi’xw Spak’em in her Squamish Nation language.
It is my observation that Bowen Island Community School and West Vancouver School District are playing a wonderful leadership role that is connecting the Bowen Island community with First Nations members and culture. BICS Principal Scott Slater, Community School Coordinator Sarah Haxby, staff, students and community volunteers deserve our thanks.
I think it is worthwhile to learn the names for Bowen Island in the Squamish Nation language. Nex̱wlélex̱wem translates to “beat a fast rhythm” and is roughly pronounced Nook-LAL-le-quwam. Snug Cove and Deep Bay are called Kwil’akm (roughly pronounced kwi-LA-kum) that translates as “calm bay” or “clam bay”, and this name is also applied to all of Bowen Island by some sources.
I have posted the movie “Celebrating the Welcome Pole” on my YouTube channel which you can find if you search “Bob Turner, Howe Sound.”