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Totem pole ready for blessing

Excitement builds for choral festivals grand prize
Totem pole ready for blessing

When City of Powell River Mayor Dave Formosa first came up with the idea for a totem pole as a prize for International Choral Kathaumixw, artistic director Paul Cummings never envisioned the opportunities it would open.

“It’s been valued in so many different ways,” Cummings said Tuesday as he reviewed plans for a blessing to take place next week, “not only for me personally but as a newsworthy topic. Who knows what more excitement will build over the course of the festival?”

Kathaumixw 2014 takes place July 1 to 5. The Choir of the World at Kathaumixw will be announced at the closing concert July 5.

“Each choir I’ve been in contact with I’ve asked, ‘have you chosen a spot in your hometown should you win?’” explained Cummings.

Tla’amin (Sliammon) Nation Elder Betty Wilson will offer a blessing at Spirit Square on the Wharf at Westview on Monday, June 16, beginning at 2 pm. Cummings will emcee the event that is scheduled to include a prayer from Elder Elsie Paul and words from Chief Clint Williams, carver Craig Galligos and Formosa. Tla’amin Singers will perform at the blessing.

“Once it is over, there will be a procession, led by escort Constable Tim Kenning and his RCMP cruiser up Duncan Street to city hall where the totem pole will be available in the lobby for public viewing,” said Cummings.

Its next appearance will be at the opening concert of Kathaumixw on Tuesday, July 1.

Once the choirs have entered the Great Hall at Powell River Recreation Complex and the anthems have been sung, the totem pole will enter. It will remain in place until the final concert.

Cummings said he has prepared a budget to take the totem pole anywhere in the world. A number of sponsors have contributed $2,000 each to the project. “If the winner is far away and uses up all the budget, we can cope with that,” he added. “If it’s closer, any remaining funds will be transferred to the next Kathaumixw in 2016.”

A commitment has been made to have a totem pole as the main prize for three festivals.

If any business, organization or individual wishes to be part of the ongoing project, Cummings can be reached by calling Powell River Academy of Music at 604.485.9633. Representatives from the sponsors will be invited to travel to the totem pole’s final destination.

Local filmmaker Claudia Medina is chronicling the totem pole’s creation and journey to create a five-minute DVD to promote Kathaumixw and Powell River wherever it may end up.