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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


October 18, 2003 - Issue 98


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by National Film Board of Canada
credits: photos by Jerry Krepakevich

Replacement PoleAfter a successful premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and an equally exhilarating run at the Vancouver International Film Festival, Ottawa audiences will have a chance to see Totem: The Return of the G'psgolox Pole in a special screening at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, 100 Laurier Street on Wednesday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m. Director Gil Cardinal and a contingent from the Haisla/Xanaksiyala people of Northwestern British Columbia will be in attendance.

Totem: The Return of the G'psgolox Pole is the contemporary story of the efforts of the Haisla/Xanaksiyala people of Kitamaat Village south of Prince Rupert, to recover a traditional mortuary pole, given without their permission more than 70 years ago to the Swedish government. In telling the story of the repatriation of the pole, the film captures the spirit of the people's long battle to rejuvenate their culture, traditions and language.

"It's fundamentally a story about respect, of both the Haisla and of the Swedes, as they learn to respect each other through this process," said Cardinal.

Cardinal filmed master carvers as they prepared two new poles - one to stand on the original site, the second as a gift to the Swedish Government in anticipation of the return of the 9-metre Kitlope totem.

At screenings across the country, the Haisla have been collecting funds to help construct a cultural centre, requested by the Stockholm Museum as a condition for returning the pole. As a testament to the film's power, $600 was collected in a spontaneous show of audience support during the film's premiere screening at the Toronto International Film Festival and another $1400 at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

Derek WilsonTotem: The Return of the G'psgolox Pole is part of a two-film series entitled Repatriation: Bringing Home Our Ancestors. The other film in the series is Kainayssini Imanistaisiwa : The People Go On by director Loretta Todd which opens at The National Gallery of Canada, the , November 12. The Canadian Museum of Civilization houses the world's largest collection of totem poles. The Haisla visitors will also be touring an exhibit of Haisla cultural artefacts at the museum when they arrive.

Totem was directed by Gil Cardinal and produced for the National Film Board of Canada by Bonnie Thompson and Jerry Krepakevich.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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