His arms are outstretched, welcoming visitors as they pass on foot or by water. This beautifully weathered Kitsilano totem pole stands strong beside the Burrard Street Bridge. You will see Master Carver Darren Yelton’s work as you walk between Vanier Park and Granville Island.
“It’s a large K’aya’chtn totem pole to welcome all newcomers to the city of Vancouver,” says Yelton. “In my language, K’aya’chtn means I hold my arms out to you and I welcome you to the sacred territory.” Yelton is from the Squamish Nation and was born in North Vancouver to a family of carvers. His ancestral name means ‘he who works to shape the future of the people.’
This Kitsilano K’aya’chtn was created from a five hundred year old red cedar tree from the Elaho Valley. The Welcoming Figure is twenty five feet tall and weighed ten tons when Yelton started his work. He did his carving in a work shed that the City of Vancouver created for him in front of the Maritime Museum. The Kitsilano K’aya’chtn was erected in 2006.
“A marker like this stands strong and proud,” says Yelton as he creates another K’aya’chtn, bound for Guangzhou. Their strength and pride are “not only for my members of the Squamish Nation, but all people in Mother Earth.”
Written by Elizabeth Newton