Sumas monument to be erected at Fraser River Heritage Park

The house post will be unveiled at noon on Saturday, May 26

Rapheal Silver is one of the carvers who worked on this house post

Sumas First Nation carvers have nearly completed two 18-foot hand-carved house posts to be unveiled at Fraser River Heritage Park, May 26.

The carvings are the product of a $200,000 grant from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to create a positive, commemorative monument as a celebration of reconciliation between residential school survivors and the Catholic Church.

The Sumas band in Abbotsford, Leq’a:mel band in Mission, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, and North Fraser Community Church applied jointly for the funds to begin a healing process from the legacy of the St. Mary’s residential school that existed in Fraser River Heritage Park.

“Finishing will be a sad day because we’re here six days a week, eight to 10 hours a day for the past three months,” said Raphael Silver, who carved the house posts with his father, Ray.

Because of the sheer amount of work involved, the Silvers solicited Mike Epp’s help, a professional native carver from Matlakatla near Prince Rupert who grew up in Matsqui. A trio of Sumas apprentices will help also.

“I didn’t really want them to think of it as a job, I wanted them to think of it as a learning experience,” said Silver, 30, who has been carving since he was five and is a former artist-in-residence for the Abbotsford School District.

He crafted the original design for the house posts, but received input from the other carvers.

The carvings incorporate healing symbols, with two salamanders, a dancer with a mask, and two salmon, all important to Sto:lo mythology, said Silver.

Each post represents the supporting poles that would go in the sides of a traditional longhouse, while a 20-foot-long flat section will connect the two to represent the rafters.

“It’s kind of fitting that we carved these in our long house,” he said.

The tree they used is a massive 450-year-old red cedar from Powell River.

Installing the finished work isn’t easy. The engineering will be $12,000, and raising the poles will cost another $6,000. He is scrambling now to ensure the foundations will be ready to install the poles in time.

But more than showcasing the artwork, it is the symbolic reconciliation between two groups with a wounded history that is important, he said.

The ceremony happens at noon.

Just Posted

Abbotsford company among 500 fastest growing in Canada

Valley Carriers keeps spot on Growth 500 list, but drops from 398 last year to 408 this year

Gill said release containing favouritism allegations was ‘booboo’: Braun

Mayor says subsequent statements by mayoral foe cast doubt on wish for ‘nice, honest contest’

Abbotsford committee documenting history of Philip Sheffield school

Members say the school’s history is a reflection of how its surrounding communities have changed over years

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants earn a 3-1 victory over Everett in season-opener in Langley

Langley’s major junior hockey team opened the season at home with a victory over the Silvertips.

Abbotsford Friday Night Lights

Recaps of all three senior varsity football team games

Snowbird RV Show and Sale event in Abbotsford

Two days remain of the four-day show, open until 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Remainder of Vancouver Whitecaps season filled with ‘must-win’ games: coach

With Vancouver currently sitting four points out of a post-season spot, each contest is crucial

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income owners in Lower Mainland

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

VIDEO: Inside an eerily empty mall in Canada

Only nine of 517 retail spaces are open for business as the grand opening postponed to next year

Most Read