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Historic totem pole marks university’s 75th anniversary


Royal Roads University marked its 75th anniversary today, with the raising of its first ever totem pole. It will welcome students, faculty and the community to the national historic site.

The 25 feet tall totem, which cost more than $30,000, was commissioned by the university’s Chancellor and Board of Governors Chair, Wayne Strandlund.

The skilled artist was Coast Salish carver Tom LaFortune. It is made of a fallen second-growth red cedar from the Royal Roads University and was crafted in the boat shed by the lagoon. The totem is titled “Harmony.”

According to Strandlund, “Harmony is one of many things RRU is all about. It is really a community event and all universities are communities, but at RRU we are the stewards of roughly 600 acres of the most beautiful land,” he said. “Stewards are people who take care of that land; take care of all the people associated with it who visit, come to study and teach.”

The symbolism of the totem:

  • A frog: representing a spirit guardian.
  • A welcome figure with open arms under an owl: representing vision and wisdom.
  • Three rings: each representing a quarter century of the school’s history.
  • An eagle: representing strength and spreading its wings to offer protection.

Strandlun says of the significance of the piece, “The minute that I turn onto this property, something changes. I don’t know what it is about the place, but my mindset, my attitude, my health – it all changes. And what’s doing that? It’s the spirit of the property. And what better commemoration of that spirit than a totem pole?”

“We’re on heritage land here. It’s heritage land in many ways. Not only are we on the historic land of the Songhees band, the Esquimalt band and the Becher Bay band, but it’s also DND land … it’s also a national historic park. I think it deserves something special to recognize and celebrate all of that.”

Strandlund hopes this is the first of many totem poles for the property.

Harmony - the title of the new Royal Roads University totem pole
Harmony – the title of the new Royal Roads University totem pole

Today was a historic day at Royal Roads University There was a unveiling of the University's first totem pole as part…

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Royal Roads University Totem Pole Unveiling Ceremony

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For more photos of the unveiling, visit the photo gallery by Michele Mateus Photography

Jitka Z
Meeting people from all walks of life and sharing their stories is my passion!

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