This week, share a photo that channels a living tradition, whether it’s your own or someone else’s.
It’s not often that a place you pass through almost daily becomes the site of a new, major monument.
First, there was a tent: a long, white structure, the type that universities often set up ahead of commencement ceremonies and reunions. Then came the machinery (I’m bad with identifying these; it looked like a larger-than-usual forklift, minus the fork), and a constant movement within the tent.
I finally peeked in one day, and realized what this was all about: inside, lying heavily on wooden support beams a couple of feet above the ground, was a 55-foot totem pole. It was being finished ahead of its raising ceremony — mere steps from the banality of my regular commute.
The Reconciliation Pole on the University of British Columbia campus is a masterpiece — and a heartbreaking one, at that. It commemorates a dark episode in Canadian history, decades during which the government removed First Nations children from their families and placed them in “residential schools,” where they faced abuse and neglect.
* The Haida name 7idansuu is pronounced ee-dan-soo.
The pole — designed and executed by Haida master carver and Hereditary Chief 7idansuu*, James Hart — channels pain, resilience, sadness, and a whole range of nuanced emotions between these. But it’s also a defiant celebration of heritage: of a culture and an artform that survive despite constant challenges.
This week, share a photo of something that says “heritage” to you. It can be from your own family or culture — a library, a work of public art, a place of worship, an object passed down to you from previous generations. Or, like me, you can choose to focus on a tradition to which you don’t belong, but to which you’ve been exposed whether through travel, moving, or the people in your life.
I look forward to seeing your take on this theme!