Campus Security were alerted on Friday about the minor vandalism to the UBC Reconciliation Pole. (Matthew Black / CBC) Members of UBC’s First Nations community are expressing their disappointment after a pole symbolizing the ongoing reconciliation process was vandalized ahead of the two-year anniversary of its installation.
The Reconciliation Pole was damaged sometime on Friday when three of about a dozen stakes surrounding it were removed and inserted into the pole.
Two were put into existing cracks in the surface while the third was inserted into the mouth of one of the carvings.
The stakes are just under a metre in length and have since been removed.
"That was very troubling," said Margaret Moss, director of the school’s First Nation house of learning.
"It was at best a senseless act, and at worst, a purposeful act ahead of the second anniversary of the pole’s raising."
The damage is largely superficial and there was no graffiti or other vandalism. No repairs are needed.
But the incident is being called troubling given the symbolic importance of the 17-metre high pole, which is dedicated to survivors of Canada’s residential school system.
"It shows a history that’s unavoidable but we need to recognize it," said Moss.
"Hopefully, we can get things moving back towards respect, trust and understanding."
Moss co-signed an open letter along with SherylLightfoot, senior advisor to the president on Indigenous Affairs, reading in part, "this condemnable act profoundly disrespects everything the pole represents."
Campus security is seeking witnesses to the vandalism. A suspect or suspects have yet to be identified.
The pole sits on the school’s Point Grey campus near Main Mall and Agronomy Road after being installed on April 1, 2017.
The pole was created by Haida master carver and hereditary Chief James Hart, also known as 7idansuu. In a statement cited in the open letter, he wrote, "we cannot lose our respect. Carry your ancestors in your heart."
A private cleansing ceremony was held over the weekend.
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