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Provincial government ‘pleased’ with pending return of totem pole to Bella Coola

Totem pole due to leave Victoria’s RBCM on Feb. 13
Hereditary Chiefs Aaron Hans, Jeffery Snow and Snuxyaltwa (as known as Deric Snow) visit the Royal BC Museum in Victoria which houses family poles. The museum is preparing the return of a pole belonging to the family of Snuxyaltwa. (Mercy Snow photo)

The provincial government is applauding the return of a totem pole to Bella Coola by the Royal British Columbia Museum.

The totem pole belonging to the family of hereditary chief Snuxyaltwa, also known as Deric Snow, of the Nuxalk First Nation is on the way to Bella Coola. The pole was taken in 1912 from Taleomy, the original village site of the Nuxalk Nation before their move to Bella Coola.

The totem pole has been at RBCM for decades. It will leave Victoria on Feb. 13 and it will take a truck several days to carry the artifact to Nuxalk territory.

“Our government is pleased the (Royal British Columbia Museum) has committed to returning the totem pole to Chief Snow and the Nuxalk community, and RBCM is providing regular updates on progress,” read a statement from the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

The ministry said earlier that the return of ancestral remains and cultural belongings is essential for true and lasting reconciliation. It added Indigenous communities are leading the return of artifacts and not all returns look the same. “Plans for removing and returning the totem pole are in the final stages and have been informed by the support and guidance of Hereditary Chief Deric Snow and other family and community members,” it reads.

RELATED: Totem pole returning to Bella Coola, Nuxalk territory, after decades in Victoria museum

Museum officials had verbally agreed to return the pole, after a visit from four Nuxalk hereditary chiefs to the museum in October of 2019, but years later, the pole was still in the museum. The museum said the delay was a combination of logistical challenges. Snow eventually filed a civil suit in January 2022 and has described the return of the pole as a return of his people’s culture.

Black Press Media has also reached out RBCM for comment.

With files from Ruth Lloyd - Williams Lake Tribune.


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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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