The 55-foot totem pole raised at the University of British Columbia to honour victims and survivors of Canada’s residential school system was vandalized days before its second anniversary.
The incident was described as a “troubling act of vandalism” in an open letter written by Margaret Moss, director of First Nations House of Learning, and Sheryl Lightfoot, senior advisor to the president on Indigenous Affairs.
Stakes that were holding the the Reconciliation Pole were removed from the ground and inserted into the back of the pole, according to the letter. On Friday, a campus employee reported the vandalism to campus security. The stakes have since been removed and there is no visible damage to the pole.
On Monday, the Reconciliation Pole celebrated its second anniversary. It was carved from a 800-year-old red cedar tree on B.C.’s north coast by a Haida Nation hereditary chief, James Hart.
Two years ago, on April 1, 2017, Reconciliation Pole was placed at #UBC. It's a symbolic art piece, representing the history of Indigenous people in Canada before, during, and after the Indian residential school era. https://t.co/0AoHLNQKK4 pic.twitter.com/JfuwhdHYDW
— University of British Columbia (@UBC) April 1, 2019
“This condemnable act profoundly disrespects everything the pole represents, from the voices of the survivors of the schools, the memories of the children who died in them, the hopes of Indigenous peoples, to the honour of all Canadians who are striving to shake free from the darkness of the past to embrace a brighter future together,” the letter stated.