Following careful consideration and consultation, the City of Prince Albert officially said good-bye to the Eaglechild totem pole, a historical artifact that stood on Prince Albert’s riverbank for 44 years. A ceremony on the riverbank was held today to share in the history of the totem pole with representatives from the City of Prince Albert, the Stonechild Family, the Okanese First Nation and the Prince Albert Historical Society.
The Eaglechild totem pole was designed and carved for Prince Albert by James Sutherland, from Manitoba, with help from primary assistant Dale Stonechild and other inmates of the Saskatchewan Penitentiary located in Prince Albert. It was donated to the City in November of 1975.
Following today’s ceremony the totem pole will be transported to Okanese First Nation, the home community of Dale Stonechild. Darlene Stonechild, Dale’s sister, spoke today on behalf of Dale and the Okanese First Nation where Dale is from.
“A piece of Dale’s artwork is coming home. It will be something for his family to see and be proud of,” said Darlene Stonechild.
“Until recently the story and cultural protocol behind the totem pole was not well known,” said Judy MacLeod-Campbell, Arts and Cultural Coordinator for the City of Prince Albert. “I am very happy that we have been able to document the history, honor the cultural traditional practices associated with totem poles and that this historical artifact will be making its way to a home that will honor and value it.”
“This feels like an appropriate conclusion for this totem pole that many Prince Albert residents are familiar with,” said Don Cody, Prince Albert City Councillor. “I am grateful to Darlene and the Okanese First Nation for reaching out to us and for supporting the transition of this important historical artifact.”
Recent inspections following an inventory and condition assessment of the City’s public art revealed that there is significant rotting at the base of the pole and concerns with the wing stability. Consultations with the University of British Columbia and the City of Kingston’s Cultural Service Department revealed that totem poles are not usually fixed or repainted unless done by the carver. At the end of their lifespan, they may be returned to the carver or his or her family to be laid down to return to the earth. Upon investigation, it was revealed that James Sutherland is deceased and attempts to locate the family were unsuccessful.
For more information, please contact:
Arts and Cultural Coordinator