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We Wai Kum carvers to create totem archway for Baikie Island entrance

Bill Henderson leading carving, assisted by Junior and Greg Henderson
Wei Wai Kum master carver Bill Henderson, renowned for his mask and paddle carvings, is leading the Indigenous Archway carving for the entrance to Baikie Island/Raven Park, along with his nephews Greg and Junior. The Archway is the central focus of a new Community Placemaking investment with the Rotary Club of Campbell River, Island Coastal Economic Trust and 4VI. Photo courtesy ICET

While the arch unveiled last week at the Tyee Spit in Campbell River may have been the first set of Indigenous totems in generations, it was certainly not the last.

Announced on June 4, another arch is being carved by Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw master carver Bill Henderson, Junior Henderson and Greg Henderson and will be located at the entrance to Baikie Island and Raven Park. According to a release from the Island Coastal Economic Trust (who are supporting the carving with an investment of funds), the totem will “depict the pre-settlement history of the land.

The arch will be part of a larger restoration and development project that will transform the area into a community space. This carving initiative is being led by the Rotary Club of Campbell River with the ICET investment. A new parking area will facilitate increased park access, and trail upgrades will improve accessibility for all users. The project also includes interpretative signs that will explain First Nation history, printed in the Liq’wala language as well as in English. The project also focuses on important environmental restoration efforts within the estuary.

Bill is known for his striking style in his masks, paddles and totems. He has carved more than 50 totems and hosted exhibitions around the world. He’s always remained closely tied to his home, too, donating masks to families and his community to use in ceremonies. Along with his nephew, Junior, he carved the Thunderbird Bear Pole that was raised at the Campbell River and District Museum in 2017.

“The Indigenous Archway in Raven Park will be a beautiful testament to the resilience and prolific culture of the Kwakwaka’wakw people and the dedication of the community to preserve and celebrate it. I can’t wait to come see it when it’s completed,” said Michele Babchuk, MLA for North Island.

The Baikie Island project as a whole has been a collaborative effort between the Rotary Club, Greenways Land Trust, the We Wai Kum First Nation, and the Campbell River and District Museum. Other partners include the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. ICET will be supporting the project through the Community Placemaking program, with $50,000 going towards a total $243,579 investment.

“It is wonderful for the Trust to be partnering on such an inspiring collaboration between world-renowned artist Bill Henderson and the local Rotary Club of Campbell River. We can’t wait to experience this new public space when it is animated and prominently showcasing Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw culture in the decades to come,” said Brodie Guy, CEO, Island Coastal Economic Trust.

RELATED: Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw carvings bring traditional art back to Tyee Spit in Campbell River

Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Black press in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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