Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Ancient cedar’s journey home

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Blessing of the ancient cedar photo

Blessing of the ancient cedar. Photo by Andrea Berneckas

BY ANDREA BERNECKAS

On June 25, 2018, community members gathered in front of Collingwood Neighbourhood House to share in the blessing of the cedar log. The event was honoured by the presence of Councillor Morgan Guerin of the Musqueam band as well a performance by Tsatsu Stalqayu (Coastal Wolf Pack).

Elder Jewel Thomas offered a blessing on behalf of the community and Jennifer Gray-Grant, executive director of Collingwood Neighbourhood House, explained the importance of this project to the community.

After the blessing and acknowledgements, participants were invited to join participants of the Families Branching Out program as they celebrated with a wonderful salmon dinner.

Lead carver Gerry Sheena has had a long creative partnership with the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood. His work can be found at the 29th Avenue SkyTrain station (Guardian of the Park), CNH (Multicultural Gateway) and Synala Co-op, to name a few projects.

Gerry is joined by apprentices Yvette Muskego, Roxanne Charles and Veronica Rose Waechter Danes. Local youth will be assisting at the site.

Gerry explained the significance of the animals in the design:

The Eagle perches and watches from the highest point of the carving and represents both home and journey. She is always soaring and finding new places to rest along her way. Eagle is nesting Eaglet in her lap to say that although Eagle travels widely, she is rooted in her home and family.

Bear is the protector, supporting Eagle and Eaglet from below with strength and wisdom. Bear is the guardian of the forests and streams.

Bear holds Salmon out front. The artist holds great respect for Salmon because Salmon feeds everything in the forest. Salmon always returns home to begin the cycle of Life. Salmon appears in all of Gerry’s work.

Carving begins on the cedar log

Carving begins on the cedar log. Photo by Nathaniel Frank Piché

The carving is made of a 600-year-old red cedar tree. This ancient tree’s journey is intricately intertwined with our community’s journey. Red Cedar found its way to us to support the carver and apprentices in their journey to reveal the spirit of this ancient being for all of our community.

Once carved, Red Cedar will find a new home, standing solidly and firmly at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House Annex as a guardian and emblem of all of our journeys. Red Cedar’s presence will prompt us to feel rooted in our places together, here in this beautiful land, to honour all of the stories that led us to this place we call home.

In October community members will be invited to join in a parade and blessing as the pole travels to its new home at the Annex.

Please drop by and check out the carving project. If you would like to schedule a group visit to learn more, contact Andrea at aberneckas@cnh.bc.ca.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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