The Reconciliation Pole, a 55-foot totem pole carved by acclaimed Haida artist 7idansuu “Edenshaw” James Hart, was installed at a place of honour at UBC on April 1, 2017. The ceremony, taking place on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam people, began at 1 p.m. with the pole raising beginning at 2:30 p.m. on the Main Mall between Agronomy Road and Thunderbird Boulevard. The artist, a master carver and Haida hereditary chief, created a storyline on the pole, which shows the periods before, during, and after the Indian residential school system, a racist and assimilationist system ran in tandem by the Canadian government, religious institutions and the education system, beginning in the 1800s and ending with the last school closure in 1996. 7idansuu said, “My hope for the pole is that it moves people to learn more about the history of residential schools and to understand their responsibility to reconciliation. The schools were terrible places. Working on the pole has been difficult but I have loved it too. We need to pay attention to the past and work together on a brighter future.”
The Reconciliation Pole, commissioned by the Audain Foundation and UBC, faces north on the Main Mall, looking toward the future site of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre, which will hold records of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The centre will open in the next academic year.