Stan Hunt of Fort Rupert shows the base of his 42-foot totem pole

Stan Hunt of Fort Rupert shows the base of his 42-foot totem pole

March 2012: Year in review

A collection of the top stories from this month last year.

In what was arguably the biggest spectacle on the North Island during the past 50 years, the Big Community Event went off in grand fashion  and without a hitch.

“I was blown away by the turnout — I was overwhelmed by it,” said Carol Dirom, who, with husband Bruce, owns Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Inc.

It’s estimated more than 2,000 people showed at the Port Hardy Civic Centre to take part in the event, which was all part of the CBC show, the Big Decision, aiming to save the distressed Hardy Buoys.

More than two dozen former Indian Residential School students took steps toward healing while leaving an historic record for succeeding generations in March when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada arrived on North Vancouver Island.

The commission took both public and private testimony at the Kwakiutl Band gymnasium, as cameras and voice recorders catalogued the grief, anger and demands for justice from the participants.

A local carver completed his most ambitious project, a 42-foot, 10-inch totem pole that was nearly a year in the making.

But the brightly decorated cedar log still had a long road to travel.

Stan Hunt and a crew of family members and other volunteer workers loaded the pole, estimated at between 7,000 and 8,000 pounds, onto a flatbed Saturday at his backyard “studio.”

It then began a meandering journey to Canada Square in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and was dedicated in a ceremony on Canada Day.

“It could be a life-changing event, to tell you the truth,” said Hunt, whose largest previous totem was a 20-foot pole that stands at the nearby health clinic.

Hundreds of North Island students looked on as Minister of Education George Abbott and local First Nations leaders and educators renewed a historic pact during a ceremony in the Kwakiutl Big House.

The second Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement will run through the 2016-17 school year. Signatories hope it will continue the successes of the initial agreement, which saw the six-year completion rate for Aboriginal students in public schools increase by 12 per cent.

The last Vancouver Island chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving shut its doors for good.

Citing low interest, the president said he recently made the decision to close the local chapter of MADD.

“I’m going to have to fold it up because there aren’t enough people to sit as directors,” said Norm Prince of the chapter he helped start in 2001.

“Everybody sees the need for MADD, but to take that extra step to become responsible for running it, it doesn’t seem to work.”