The Pawakin pole that was crafted by Ned Bear a year ago will be installed on the St. Thomas University campus Nov. 09.
The pole will be visible from the President and Vice Chancellor, Dawn Russell’s office window facing towards the stage in the upper courtyard.
By mid-November a traditional Wolastoqey ceremony will be held in the upper courtyard for the unveiling of the pole.
Aboriginal Student Services Coordinator Dan Robichaud says he is happy to finally get the pole in the ground this year.
Due to unexpected delays like the weather, the Pawakin was not finished last year.
For Robichaud the Pawakin is a “Guide that watches over our way of the land. It keeps the spirits balanced and is an over seer of good vibes.”
“It will be a place for students to offer tobacco and get their thoughts together,” he said.
Robichaud says Bear still needs to clean-up the back of the log which was inaccessible from where it laid in its cradle. Bear will also burn traditional Wolastoqey pictographs on it.
Next year Robichaud plans to, “build a four foot diameter sage garden around it.”
Pawakin translates to spirit guide and helper says Ned Bear who is half Maliseet, half Planes Cree, and a resident of St. Mary’s First Nation.
The carved Pawakin is a, “representation of a spirit guide for young people leaving home to go to college,” says Bear.
“Traditionally in the past when we went through a transition (from child to adult) a young man would go on a vision quest in isolation alone,” said Bear. “They would pray, chant, and fast for four or five days and try and find their spirit guide for themselves to get guidance.”
Bear says the Pawakin is also there to help people out in times of trouble.
“A spirit guide can come to you at any time, including crossroads in your life,” said Bear.
The pole is a yellow birch that was blown down during Hurricane Arthur last year. Bear had a brother named Arthur that died of cancer a few years ago so the Pawakin affects Bear on a personal level.
“It is a message from the spirit world the way I see it,” says Bear.