This week, share a photo that channels a living tradition, whether it’s your own or someone else’s.

It’s not often that a place you pass through almost daily becomes the site of a new, major monument.

First, there was a tent: a long, white structure, the type that universities often set up ahead of commencement ceremonies and reunions. Then came the machinery (I’m bad with identifying these; it looked like a larger-than-usual forklift, minus the fork), and a constant movement within the tent.

I finally peeked in one day, and realized what this was all about: inside, lying heavily on wooden support beams a couple of feet above the ground, was a 55-foot totem pole. It was being finished ahead of its raising ceremony — mere steps from the banality of my regular commute.

The Reconciliation Pole on the University of British Columbia campus is a masterpiece — and a heartbreaking one, at that. It commemorates a dark episode in Canadian history, decades during which the government removed First Nations children from their families and placed them in “residential schools,” where they faced abuse and neglect.

* The Haida name 7idansuu is pronounced ee-dan-soo.

The pole — designed and executed by Haida master carver and Hereditary Chief 7idansuu*, James Hart — channels pain, resilience, sadness, and a whole range of nuanced emotions between these. But it’s also a defiant celebration of heritage: of a culture and an artform that survive despite constant challenges.

This week, share a photo of something that says “heritage” to you. It can be from your own family or culture — a library, a work of public art, a place of worship, an object passed down to you from previous generations. Or, like me, you can choose to focus on a tradition to which you don’t belong, but to which you’ve been exposed whether through travel, moving, or the people in your life.

I look forward to seeing your take on this theme!

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  1. Heritage often called sabhyata in my mother tongue.Liked ur post alot.But its quiet a heavy word.Heritage in one way the culture we belong to tradition it reflects…Heritage is Jaipur Hawa mahal nn many more for me.The things that give me a feeling of rich culture..

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  2. Some days the most mundane thing will grab your attention, and next thing you know, you’re appreciating it as an amazing artifact that stands for accomplishments that formed history.

    I remember my feeling of awe when standing at The Iron pillar and Qutub Minar- purportedly along the gateway to eight (or more) cities of Delhi. That this stone monument and preserved iron, had stood for over a thousand years of markets, wars, peace times, weddings, and mostly active engaged humanity, boggled my mind as an American with little appreciation of the world in context.

    Had a similar ‘Aleph moment’ in St. Catherine’s of Sienna (as I remember it then, not today), feeling the hope that thousands of parishioners had felt when entering the sanctuary. And I’m not even Catholic!

    Sorry, those pictures are still analogue (and buried), even if my recall fresh.

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  3. Aho! Miigwetche (thank you) for sharing this. It was a very dark and dangerous time both in Canada and in the United States where children were yanked from their culture and stripped of all that made them special and blessed of the Earth.

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