A new totem pole from British Columbia was put up in Buenos Aires’ Canada Square. The ceremony was a tribute to the rich indigenous heritage of Canada and Argentina. At the launch, Ambassador Gwyneth Kutz highlighted the significance of the totem pole as a tangible cultural bridge, uniting the countries of the Americas through an indigenous world view.
Invited to the inauguration by the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, Ambassador Kutz underlined that the totem pole represents the spirit of unity amongst the inhabitants of the Americas, which is reinforced through exchange, mutual trust and ongoing dialogue.
The totem represents a tangible symbol of an indigenous worldview that defines us as countries of the Americas.
The Ministries of Culture and Public Spaces of the City of Buenos Aires carried out this project in order to replace the historic totem pole which stood in Canada Plaza from 1964 until it was retired in 2008.
In choosing Canadian artist Stan Hunt, the City paid homage to Hunt’s ancestors, notably his father, Henry Hunt, who carved the previous totem, and Grandfather Mungo Martin who was the original master carver of the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria.
The ceremony included dances of the indigenous peoples of both Canada and Argentina in order to welcome and bless the monumental piece. The totem pole, measuring 13 metres, was carved from a single solid red cedar tree by artist Stan Hunt of the Kwakiutl tribe of northern Vancouver Island.
Canada Plaza serves as a gateway to the city as it is centrally located at the crossroads of the Port of Buenos Aires, the Retiro Train Station, the primary bus terminal, the National Bureau of Immigration and the National Museum of Immigration.
In this context, Ambassador Kutz expressed her hope that this new totem pole would serve as a testament to the thousands passing through the plaza each day, of that which can be accomplished together through creativity, social integration and civil participation.
Multicoloured, majestically facing the rising sun, the new totem pole was inaugurated by Minister of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires, Hernán Lombardi and Minister of Public Space, Diego Santilli, along with Ambassador Gwyn Kutz, representatives of Argentina’s aboriginal peoples and the diplomatic community.
The Ambassador concluded her speech stating that "Canada Plaza in Buenos Aires makes us proud because it belongs to all of us. A proverb of the Kwakiutl people of Vancouver Island says ‘We are in the land, the land is in us.’ "