After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Haida Totem Pole Dedication at First United Church in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Two Worlds Share the Gold

First United Church is called “home” by a diverse community of over 250 people from the downtown eastside. A new symbol of faith has appeared there. It is a traditional Haida totem pole unveiled as the “people’s pole”.


It was recently gifted from the First Nations community to First United Church as a remembrance of the murdered and missing women of this neighbourhood.


 During the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the annual March for Missing and Murdered women was held and thousands attended. The march was held to celebrate the lives of over 500 missing and murdered women from the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver and hundreds of aboriginal women missing and murdered across Canada over the past two decades. There are over 3000 total missing and murdered women since the 1970’s.

The totem pole was also presented as a gift for the homeless people in the DTES.  


With the presence of an international press corps, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics has been a wonderful opportunity for many groups to raise public awareness around the problems of homelessness in Vancouver, especially in the Downtown Eastside. Many marches, rallies, stands, and demonstrations have been held during these past two weeks to gather public support around the “homes for all” call for a national housing strategy to end homelessness for all time.


There is currently an Olympic Tent Village set up at 58 West Hastings which the public is invited to attend. They have asked for more than red mittens. The people there need socks, shoes, gloves, jackets, sweaters, tents, and firewood.


As well, Pivot is holding a housing protest at Canada Pavilion this weekend with Legal Observers on site. The protest is intended to send a message to the Stephen Harper government that it must bring in a national strategy to end homelessness now. For the “Olympic Wrap-up”, Pivot activists will wrap the entire pavilion with “142 red tarps and 1700 feet of messaging calling for an end to homelessness in this country”. From Pivot’s “Red Tent Olympic Wrap-up” Facebook page, “We’ll demonstrate that housing is still a major issue to Vancouverites, despite the Olympic distraction, and inspire other cities to join us.”


“We will be peaceful, we will be loud, we will be creative, and we will be relentless.”  


The following YouTube video shows how the pulpit and pews of First United have made way for bunk beds in the sanctuary to house the homeless. It also contains footage of the 2010 Olympic March for Missing and Murdered Women and details on the creation of the totem pole.


YouTube video “First United Receives a Totem Pole”


The message of the pole is that together, we are one.


“The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look on and do nothing.” Albert Einstein

More in Olympics

Wrestler Carol Huynh brought home Olympic bronze. Was it good enough?

Four years ago in Beijing, BC native Carol Huynh catapulted to success when she made history with Canada's first gold medal in women's wrestling and the first Canadian gold of the games. During the...

Canadian Para swimming team arrives in London for Paralympic Games

After a 12-day training camp in Italy, Canada’s 24-member Para swimming team landed in London and moved into the Paralympic Athlete Village on Wednesday for the 2012 Paralympic Games August 29 to...

Canada's Olympic soccer bronze a triumph for BC

After a heartbreaking loss to the US, Canada's Olympic soccer team captures the bronze medal: it's a special triumph for Christine Sinclair from Burnaby, BC.
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.