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This was the news built up during the 2002 visit

Three Canadian First Nations Carvers helped carve totem poles in various locations round Scotland in Summer 2002

The Bennachie pole will be raised on 8th March, and the raising of the large pole at Strathdon is pencilled in for 16th August, when it is expected that XwaLackTun will be present.

Finished Pole Raised at the Royal School, Dunkeld

Photograph by Sandy Howe the headteacher of the school the morning after the raising of the pole.

Click on the image to get a large version of this splendid picture.

This is the message which was sent from Canada for the pole raising ceremonies at the Royal School, Dunkeld and Chapel of Garioch School.

Hope this message finds you well and in good spirit.
I feel honored to have been asked to share some words with you today. I was thinking about what it was that I’d like to share. I realized that it was much more than words that I had to share.
There is a Halq’eme’ylem word that describes it best. The word is Shx well’ (swholee). Shx well’ translates to “spirit or Life Force”. Our Shx weli’ includes our parents, grandparents, great grandparents, the Osprey, the Salmon, all our resources. It is what connects us all. When we create something we fill it with our Shx weli’ and in return it fills us with its. When we embrace something or someone in a respectful way we share this life force.
We are all full of the spirit of that beautiful tree that was given new life, and the spirit of your wonderful community that each step we take is light and full of bounce.
I hope that all those that encounter this symbol of friendship and sharing will be filled with the Shx weli’ that resides within it.
On behalf of us all, thank you for all that you have shared with us.
All my relations,
Drew, Erin, Xwa Lack Tun

The carvers from British Columbia, Canada carved in these places... Everyone was welcome to come along and take part.

August 15 - 18 : The Bennachie Centre,

More details

Carving a small pole
August 20 - 26 Lonach Games week,
Strathdon, Aberdeenshire

More Details

Carving a large pole and a small pole
September 3 - 9 The Royal School, Dunkeld,
Birnam, Perthshire
Carving a large pole and a small pole
September 6 -7 Dundee Flower Show
Camperdown Park
Carving a small pole

Finished Pole at Strathdon

The completed pole at Strathdon Primary School

Click on the image to see it in its setting

Photo by Jackie Cumberbirch

A report from "The Scotsman" : THE TREE OF LIFE by Jim Gilchrist

Copyright 2002 The Scotsman Publications Ltd. September 11, 2002

The trick is to go with the grain. "You have to pay attention to what the wood wants," explains native Canadian woodcarver Drew Atkins, poised over a pine log that is becoming something else. "You're giving it new life and you can't give it an identity it's not comfortable with."

The wood he's talking about is a section of a 175ft Douglas fir, felled at the Hermitage, just outside Dunkeld. This is big tree country: not far from where Atkins and company are giving this forest giant its new identity, stands the Birnam Oak, the last remnant of that wood which supposedly gave Macbeth his comeuppance, while at nearby Inver is Niel Gow's Oak, under which the legendary 18th-century fiddler used to sit and play. Neither the fiddler nor the thane, however, would have been familiar with the shape this particular tree is taking, in the playground of the Royal School of Dunkeld. Under the delighted gaze of the pupils, two sizeable North American First Nation totem poles are emerging, plus a smaller, residual pole. They may come from a different, far-away culture, but the motifs emerging under the ministrations of chisel and adze and chainsaw are common enough to both localities - the osprey and the salmon. And their message is both timeless and as timely as the World Summit just past; that we should respect these creatures and their environment.

Continued: Click here to to read the rest of this article

The Carvers Have Gone Home (12th September)

Xwa Lack Tun, Aaron and Drew have now gone back home to British Columbia, Melanie and Jada having left earlier. They leave behind them six carved poles, many happy memories and new friends. Haste ye back!

The final pole carving was at the Royal School Dunkeld, where two poles were carved, one to be raised at the school, the other to go back to the Hermitage, where the tree grew. Another small pole was carved at the Dundee Flower Show atCamperdown Park. Here are a few thumbnails:

Click here to see the Dunkeld Picture Gallery

Two Poles Have Been Carved at Strathdon (2nd September)

A small pole for Strathdon School and a large one for the whole community have been completed during Lonach Gathering week. Here are a few thumbnail pictures.

Click here to see the Strathdon Picture Gallery

Many New Pictures of the Bennachie carving (19th August)

The carving of the first pole is complete! Here are just a few thumbnails:

Click here to see the Bennachie picture gallery

Carving Has Started at Bennachie (16th August)

First pictures of the work at Bennachie from Jackie Cumberbirch
(click on the images to see a larger version)

Blessing the pole before carving at Bennachie
Work starts
Marking out
All hands at work
Xwa Lack Tun meets the Strathdon carvers

The Carvers Have Landed (14th August)

Pictured are Drew Atkins, Aaron Nelson Moody, Kenny Grieve and Xwa Lack Tun in Kenny's garden shortly after the three Canadians arrived in Scotland in mid-August.

More about the carvers

Trees Felled

Trees have been felled, a 130 foot Douglas Fir at Balmoral (gifted by Balmoral Estate) for the Aberdeenshire poles, and a 175 foot Douglas Fir at the Hermitage (gifted by the National Trust for Scotland) for the Dunkeld and Dundee poles.
The Balmoral tree
The Hermitage tree
Click on image for larger version
Click on image for larger version

Preparations in 2001

A great deal of preparation work was achieved during the summer of 2001. Partners to help with the project were identified, so poles have been offered and sites to erect them were found. The project has been adopted by Treefest 2002 as a flagship project, and most importantly, Xwa-Lack-Tun, a West Coast Squamish woodcarver from British Columbia visited Scotland. He is returning with companions this year.

Scottish Environment minister Rhona Brankin with Kenny Grieve and First Nations artifacts at the launch of TreeFest in June 2001. Xwa-Lack-Tun during his visit this year. He met with Rhona Brankin at the Scottish Countryside Fair at Vane Farm in September 2001

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