A Celebration of Community & Art: Unveiling the Totem Poles

On September 17, 2022, we were honoured to invite representatives from the Coast Salish, Kwakwaka’wakw, and Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, Power To Be staff, and over 50 guests to celebrate the unveiling of our three new totem poles at our Prospect Lake site.

We are grateful to the carvers, John Marston (Coast Salish), Stephen Bruce (Kwakwaka’wakw), Moy Sutherland (Nuu-chah-nulth), and their teams for creating and sharing their art with Power To Be and with our community. We recognize the powerful significance of including totems from the Coast Salish, Kwakwaka’wakw, and Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations all on one site.

After welcomes and greetings from representatives from each Nation, the artists and their teams spoke on the inspirations and meaning of each totem pole. Each pole was carefully unveiled and there was a sense of pride and unity that each totem evoked as everyone took it the beauty of the artwork.

The event was closed with an eagle-down drum and dance ceremony to bless the space. Afterward, everyone celebrated with drumming, singing, and a meal catered by Songhees Events and Catering.

Power To Be is honoured to host the totems and is thankful to the artists for sharing their art with our community. These totems will stand tall for years to come and will remain a beautiful reminder of whose lands we live, work, and play on. See below for photos from the event and to learn more about each of the 3 totem poles.

Photo credit: Erica Chan

Artist: John Marston

Coast Salish

When asked about the inspiration for the pole, John says, “Our people have always had a grounded way of connecting with the Earth and with the natural world…through cleansing your body and taking care of your mind, body and soul, and doing that every day and in nature. The artwork is really about our experience in today’s world, living traditionally in a traditional way, but also dealing with the modern ways of living.” He says that the placement of the pole at Power To Be “helps us reinstate our connection to the land, because these were considered sacred areas for our people.”

Artist: Stephen Bruce


Stephen described how harmonious the elements of this pole have been with the events of the past several months. He explains that when many orcas come through the ocean in a given year, many salmon will follow. He says that there is an orca on the pole and there was a bounty of sockeye salmon this year. He continues by describing how the pole has a raven on it and the raven is the trickster, and he found that working on this pole project revealed “a few tricks” along the way. Lastly, “there is a thunderbird on the pole, and the thunderbird is a big, powerful creature from the sky that flaps his wings, and we had a lot of thunder this summer, more than normal, I would say.”

Artist: Moy Sutherland


Moy describes the pole by saying, “There is a wolf transforming into a human on the top, and then on the bottom is a wolf transforming into a killer whale, both of which are big stories for Nuu-chah-nulth, and this is fitting because Power To Be transforms people’s lives.” The log for the pole was salvaged from an old culvert behind Meares Island in Tofino Inlet. The artist says, “It felt good to salvage something and turn it into something as cool as this, and we’re not cutting down old growth in order to do that.”