Review of Indigenous community of Canada
By: Amber Brooks

In this age of reconciliation with the Indigenous community of Canada, there has been an influx in promotion of Indigenous authors, activists, and artists. More and more people are getting interested in Indigenous history and cultures, and in turn the Canadian government is also making more allowances for Indigenous presence in media and government run facilities. This means that more schools are allowing Aboriginal art and content within their halls. One of such art pieces is a brilliant work of both traditional wood carving practices blended with modern art ideals and execution. This piece by 7idansuu (Edenshaw), James Hart, a Haida master carver and Hereditary Chief, is a fifty-five foot totem pole depicting the history of Indigenous and Canadian relations over the centuries, and its hopes for the future. This incredible piece of work, called the Reconciliation Pole and erected on April of 2017, is currently located on the campus of the University of British Columbia, which is also the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam First Nation.

To fully tell the story it's portraying, the totem is separated into three sections: before contact, after contact, and hopes for future reconciliation. The bottom section, is designed all around the traditional beliefs of the Haida people and the contrast between the pre and post contact lives of the Indigenous community. At the bottom of the pole, there is a house, the Salmon House, that a medicine man is standing on. If you notice, the man's feet are detailed. This is supposed to be a direct contrast to the post contact section, where colonialism effected the Indigenous peoples in the form of the genocide from Residential Schools. The larger building riddled with copper nails near the centre of the pole is a representative of one such school, with children from almost every nation circling the top, all in either traditional dress or school uniforms and numbers. What is really chilling about this section, is how one of the children is depicted with no facial features or identifying markers- which is to represent all the children who have lost their heritage to these schools. All of these children are depicted without feet, which is supposed to symbolize a lack of grounding, or connection to their culture and religion, again a direct contrast to the medicine man at the bottom of the pole. Another detail that sticks out is the fact that each copper nail is supposed to represent every child that has gone to residential schools in Canada, which is almost two hundred thousand, and that number climbs every day with the new information being released as residential schools are being studied. There is also the underside of the school that has the copper nails form two skeletons- the representation of all the children who have died at these schools, a number which is sadly also growing, as more and more schools are being researched and scrutinized.

The top section, mostly recognized by the boats, represents the desire to make peace and move forward with the relationship between the Indigenous population and the Canadian one. This iconography is reminiscent to the Two Row Wampum, the 1613 treaty agreement between the Haudenosaunee peoples (or the Six Nation Confederacy as it is known in English) and the Dutch colonist. This treaty is very important in a lot of Indigenous political dealings, because it symbolizes sovereignty over their own nations, but also allying with the settlers two boats along a river, parallel but never interacting or obstructing the other on its path.

While the Truth and Reconciliation Commission may be over, it does not mean that we should stop caring about Indigenous politics or issues. Many Indigenous people in Canada face higher rates of abuse, incarceration, lack of basic resources, and are having their

treaty rights ignored in favour of quick unethical profit. If we want to take the message that the Reconciliation Pole is giving, then we have to learn how to respect each other and learn to share the land and work together to a peaceful harmonized future.