Eugene Harry, Shaker Church Minister with Squamish First Nation, performs a ceremony to unveil the newly restored Welcome Figure at Westview Elementary School.
Standing tall above the crowd of students, staff and parents who are gathered at the front of Westview Elementary School, the school's newly restored Welcome Figure holds out its hands in a gesture of welcome and protection.
"Welcome Figure in the Squamish language is K'ay'achtn: I reach my arms out to you and I welcome you to this sacred area," said Darren Yelton, Squamish Nation carver who created the Welcome Figure at Westview Elementary.
Darren Yelton, Squamish Nation carver, drums (front right) as students brush off the newly restored K'ay'achtn.
A ceremony was held in June at the school to unveil the K'ay'achtn, which Yelton recently restored. As part of the ceremony, witnesses were called, students brushed off the welcome figure with cedar bows and Coast Salish songs were drummed. The entire school was in attendance to honour and learn from the event.
"Today we are opening the eyes of the one who will look over you. This marker is the caretaker of this place. It has a spirit, as all things have spirits," said Eugene Harry, Shaker Church Minister with Squamish First Nation.
Every student in the school had some part in restoring the welcome figure, also known as a marker, giving it an even deeper meaning and connection to the school.
"I'd like to thank the students for all being such good painters. They all contributed, showing their respect for the marker; and it will respect and look out for them in return," said Yelton.