Totem a welcome sign

Doug and Bear LeFortune carve third totem for Saanichton

Doug and Kathy LaFortune

The third of four Welcome to Saanichton Village totem poles was revealed Sunday at its location on Mount Newton X Road.

The totem, depicting an Orca, was carved by Tsawout artist Doug LaFortune and his son, Bear. Both were on hand at the ceremony with their families.

Doug said each pole takes between two or three months to complete. Each are made of red cedar and the signs themselves are made from yellow cedar, he said.

A carver for more than 40 years, Doug has been commissioned for various totem pole projects — large and small. He completed a 30-foot pole for a recent Butchart Gardens anniversary and has carved others for various clients throughout Greater Victoria.

His son, Bear (Doug junior), has been learning the trade since he was a kid, his dad said.

“He has been at it for a while,” Doug said. “He has grown up with it, like I did. And now, we work very well together.”

The Orca theme on the latest pole, said Doug, was inspired in part by First Nations culture — and the fact he saw a pod of whales last fall before the carving began.

“It kind of sealed the deal.”

The final pole commissioned by the Saanichton Village Association will be in the form of a raven and will be put up on Wallace Drive near Centennial Park.

Jan Carroll, chair of the Saanichton Village Association said the project is the result of an effort made by a lot of people.

“This represents a strong connection between First Nations and the Saanichton community,” she said, as drummers Scott Sam and Romaine underwood performed songs of prayer and celebration during Sunday’s ceremony.

Carroll also thanked the District of Central Saanich, which has provided the association with grants-in-aid to help pay for the totem welcome sign project in the community.