Aging totem pole comes down at ceremony outside Royal B.C. Museum

Second totem removed because of internal damage suffered through exposure to the elements

Women dance during the Abyas song to cleanse and bless the ground for the cedar mortuary pole replica carved by Mungo Martin in 1955 was removed from Thunderbird Park during a commemorative ceremony on the grounds of the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday, June 5, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

An aging totem pole that told the story of a murdered woman was lowered during a ceremony outside the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria.

Dancers circled the replica Haida mortuary pole, which has stood at the museum’s Thunderbird Park for almost 65 years, before it was hooked to a crane and gently brought to the ground.

It’s the second totem removed from the park in recent days after engineers determined the poles suffered internal damage through exposure to the elements and were at risk of falling.

Hereditary Haida Chief Reg Young says the original pole was carved in honour of a woman from his village of Tanu who was murdered in the 19th century on the U.S. San Juan Islands, located between Vancouver Island and Washington state.

Young says mortuary poles included the remains of the deceased and were placed in villages to announce a person’s passing and reveal their status in the community.

READ MORE: Two totem poles to come down at Victoria’s Thunderbird Park

The Haida pole will be transported to the Kwakiutl First Nation near Port Hardy on northern Vancouver Island, the homeland of Mungo Martin, the Indigenous artist who carved both totems.

The Canadian Press

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