Welcome Pole at L’École Cleveland Elementary was carved in the fall of 2016. The lead artist was Latash Maurice Nahanee, a member
of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Nation and MONOVA’s Indigenous Policy
and Practices Advisor. Latash and Carving Assistant Chris Fyfe worked on
site at the L’École Cleveland Elementary School. All of the
students and staff from Kindergarten to grade seven had the opportunity
to help with the carving.
The Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation is part of the
Coast Salish cultural group. The Coast Salish traditional territory
includes the Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland, Southern Vancouver Island
and northern Washington State. The Welcome Pole is a human figure that
stands with its’ hands raised up in a gesture of welcome and friendship.
Coast Salish is an oral culture. The Welcome Figure is meant to be an
icon representing teachings and values important to the Coast Salish.
Respect for oneself and for each other promotes peace and friendship
among the people of the community. The Cleveland Welcome pole carries a
Skippers paddle. This represents he is a leader. He is one who guides
and nurtures the people.
Latash and Chris chose to carve the
Welcome Pole from a red cedar tree that was harvested and donated by a
family whose children were attending the school. They also chose to
carve a Welcome Pole because the values represented by this sculpture
ties in with the values of the Mission Statement of the
school. L’Ecole Cleveland Elementary School mission is to provide an
environment that fosters the emotional, social and physical well
being and the intellectual development of all students. Cleveland School
will promote a positive self concept, respect for self, respect for
others, respect for the environment, fitness and health.
his visual art career in 1993. In 1995, he began a twenty year career
teaching First Nations art and culture in public and private schools. He
retired three years ago from working in public schools. Since then he
has been a full time artist and art mentor, in addition to being a
lifetime Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Cultural Practitioner. Learning from his Elders,
he embraced their teachings and is a proud member of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh
The 2020 Heritage Awards were presented on 12 April
2021 by District of North Vancouver Mayor and Council. Congratulations
to Latash and the participating artists!