Right behind Britannia Community Centre is a new Carving Pavilion that officially opened this summer. The pavilion will be the centre for traditional aboriginal carvers and their students, creating canoes, totem poles and more.
Sean Leslie spoke with Squamish carver Darren Yelton about what this means for students and the community.
Yelton started carving at the age of 9 years old, and sold his first carving for $20 – which he promptly spent on candy for himself and his friends.
He says carving is important to the culture because it’s a way of leaving markers spread throughout the different territories of the Squamish, Tseil-Waututh, and Musqueam nations to the public. They’re put up to show all people that they’re welcome to the territory with open arms.
Cynthia Low is the Executive Director of Britannia Community Services Centre. She says it’s about celebrating their traditional and non-traditional sides of the neighbourhood.
“This is a carving pavilion that was built to honour the legacy of First Nations contributions historically, currently and in the future.”
Squamish carver Ray Natraoro was working on his 30th canoe. He says when he first started carving sea-going canoes there was no one around who was carving them, so he had to teach himself how to carve a canoe by studying them at museums. Each canoe is one log, which is steamed open after it’s carved.
Reviving a lost art
“When I started reading about steaming there was no one around that actually did it. My grandfather heard stories of elders talking about it, so when I started to steam using this old technology I had to learn by myself.”
LISTEN to the full story about Britannia Carving Pavilion: