White Rock Totem Pole
When John Walkus Green began the carving of this project, he was still a teenager, nineteen years of age, eager to undertake a meaningful challenge in his life. Two years later, the parents, students and teachers joined together to celebrate the achievement of a young professional carver who has come to better understand his place in general society and in the traditional Kwakwaka'wakw community. The bottom figure is the Dzunukwa. The original plan was to have her holding a basket with two children in it. One was my sister Doreen, and the other was myself - and then I changed that to a more neutral meaning. It was usually a woman, the government worker, Faces who came and took my family to residential schools or put us into foster care or up for adoption.
What I've tried to carve here is alcohol syndrome, and pain, fear, anger....basically all the feelings that natives and non-natives have for what they've gone through.
They're trying to climb out of this pain, so the bodies here are basically trying to climb out of it and I try to portray these feelings with as much emotion as I can.
The BearThe second character is the Bear. The Bear is holding a fish. Not only does a fish fit with a Bear - it's thought of as brain food - it represents the knowledge - the right input. If you get the right feedback, the right support, you get the right knowledge to deal with your problems - you're a little further ahead.
The Killer Whale is basically a family totem pole shape. The Thunderbird, the Bear and the Killer Whale were carved on a great totem pole by my great grandfather Charlie G. Walkus. It's basically the symbol of my family.
When I was in foster care, away from my family, one of the memories that came on me often was the memory of spending time fishing with my grandfather. When I was about six years old, out on a gill netter, the Orcas, the killer whales were around to eat the seals which were trying to eat the fish caught in the gill net. Breaking ThroughOne of the killer whales had gotten trapped in the net. So this killer whale had been brought up on the fishing boat and I can remember seeing how huge this thing was - so there's a lot of net that appears in this pole - the remnants of the net that was cut off to free this killer whale. There are four dots - the four generations of carvers in my family - and I'd like to carry onVoice of the Thunderbird that tradition to my children. There are two dots on the tail which are a memorial to my grandmother and one of my uncles who drowned.
I've always felt I had a big dream or a big goal to follow, but I was always prevented, I always felt tied to something, stuck...prevented from carrying on. The break in the net here is the - it's a final move - it's a breaking through the net - making it happen.
The top figure, the Thunderbird - has a wooden plaque covering its chest and its open mouth is speaking - letting the spirit of the Thunderbird out into the community. I wanted to share my spirituality, my culture, with others.
I don't know what the next move is after I've accomplished this project. I, hopefully, will have emptied out all of these feelings into this pole. I would hope that they will stay here. Part of the totem pole raising is that it sort of seals that history - the story - feelings - emotions - and we seal it all in here. I think I will be able to look back on this as a learning tool for myself, but I think I'll always move ahead - there's more ahead than there is behind...
Listing last confirmed: May. 2, 2011