A local WSÁNEC artist is busy creating yet another unique carving for the University of Victoria.
Master carver Charles Elliott from the Tsartlip First Nation is currently working 12, and sometimes 14-hour days preparing a large piece of hollowed out cedar that will stand as a podium for theThe Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences Congress being hosted by the University of Victoria June 1-8.
The podium piece features images of the creator, herons and hopefully ravens, said Elliott, who noted that the bird plays an important part in First Nation’s culture.
“I’m really hoping I can work in a couple of ravens on this piece because in our culture, the raven is the messenger. It would be symbolic on the podium because as someone stands at a podium they are delivering a message.”
The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, known simply as Congress, is in its 82nd year and is Canada’s largest gathering of scholars across disciplines attracting over 6,000 participants every year.
The event is organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and serves to bring together academics, researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners to share findings, refine ideas, and build partnerships.
UVic last hosted Congress in 1990, when Elliott also carved a totem pole for the event.
“I also carved the entrance poles to First People’s house on campus as well, so I have a few pieces at the University,” said Elliott.
Elliott’s work is well represented on the Saanich Peninsula, with totems carved by him standing at the Victoria Airport and welcome poles at the entrance of the Tsartlip Health Centre which opened in October 2012. Elliott has also created several international ambassadorial works, including the Queen’s Baton for the 15th Commonwealth Games in 1994 and a talking stick for Nelson Mandela.
Elliott’s carved podium will be unveiled June 3 at the University during the First Peoples Circle Celebration and Dedication Ceremony.