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K’ómoks First Nation Impacts Territory With Guardian Watchmen and Poles

Hereditary Chief Wedlidi Speck and carver Karver Everson at the ceelbration of Guardian pole unveiling at the Comox Valley Art Gallery. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

Randy Frank is making a big impact on the territory of the K’ómoks First Nation. Frank is both a Guardian Watchman and one half of the team erecting Guardian totem poles throughout K’ómoks territory.

Their lands and waters span a vast geographical area, from the southern Great Bear Rainforest south to Denman and Hornby islands.

As a Guardian, Frank and his team protect and preserve the environment of their territories. Often referred to as the “eyes and ears of the land and sea,” the Guardians work on a wide range of stewardship initiatives. Examples include monitoring for illegal hunting activities, mapping of historic village sites, fish counts on local waterways, and conducting eel grass surveys in the K’ómoks Estuary.

K’ómoks First Nation Guardian Watchmen and carver Randy Frank. Photo by K’ómoks First Nation

“We work on protecting and monitoring our lands and everything in it, from plants and animals, to marine life as well,” says Frank. But he also approaches protection of his Nation’s territory from another angle.

Randy Frank along with Karver Everson are part of the Guardian Pole Project. Under the mentorship of master Kwakwaka’wakw carver, Calvin Hunt, the pair are carving and raising Guardian poles at a rate of two per year over a decade.

In October 2018, two new poles were raised outside the Comox Art Gallery. In describing the Guardian figure at the top of poles, Everson said “It’s holding its belly, it’s full of wealth and I think it reflects the land that we’re on, how wealthy we are to live in the Comox Valley.”

In a recent publication from CV Collective, the Guardian Pole Project is described as the brainchild of Hereditary Chief (and former chief councillor) Rob Everson. The aim is to “creat[e] a stronger sense of unity and pride for the K’ómoks people”

“Not only are Guardian poles markers of unceded K’ómoks traditional territory, they also exemplify the stories and belief systems that have been in place since time immemorial,” writes Roger Albert. “They aim to uplift the spirits of the K’ómoks people and are also a means of educating non-Indigenous people about K’ómoks traditions and values.”

Read the full CV Collective article here and learn about the K’ómoks Guardian Watchmen on their website here.