Steven Point parked his 1977 GMC pickup truck at Government House, strummed country songs in its stately rooms and carved a cedar canoe in one of its garages and a totem in its garden.
British Columbias 28th lieutenant-governor, the first B.C. aboriginal person appointed to the vice-regal post, leaves Friday after serving five years as the Queens representative.
Its a position the former Skowkale First Nation chief, provincial court judge and treaty negotiator said he didnt originally want but is now glad he accepted.
One day the prime minister phoned me and asked me if I would do this, said Point. I thought, No, I want to go home.
Point said he had grown weary of travel and wanted to spend more time with his family in the Fraser Valley.
But my wife (Gwendolyn) is the one who suggested to me this might be really good for our people to have someone in this position, Point said.
Laughing, Point said she was right, and hes seen the enthusiasm at his literacy camps on tiny Kuper Island near Victoria and at this summers totem raising ceremony in the Government House gardens.
The native people, theyre so proud to see our own person to be recognized like this, he said. They all feel theyve been uplifted. Its been great. It was a great thing thats happened.
Point said his legacy will go beyond the totem, canoe and the song he wrote, the latter of which will be presented to the legislature during todays ceremony. Titled British Columbia, the song is an anthem that Point hopes children and adults will be proud to sing.
Point said the canoe on display at the B.C. legislature and the totem at Government House reflect the values he wanted to bring to the post.
The canoe project was about reconciliation and how do we get people to better understand each other and begin talking and to break down barriers, he said. I thought giving the canoe was a good thing to do. The pole was also in the same theme.
We really have to turn the page on history and begin to think a lot about how were going to work together in the future, said Point.
The pole is a replica of the totem well-known West Coast carver Mungo Martin designed and carved decades ago.
Point said he spent hours in the Government House garage, pondering with Victoria carver Tony Hunt the meaning of why Canada would choose a First Nations artifact to present to the British navy as a symbol of Canadian friendship and culture.
To me it represented this gift across the ocean that was coming from Canada carved by a First Nations artist, he said. This notion of reaching across the ocean and bringing our culture over there was something that was similar to what I was trying to do here to bridge the two cultures.
Chief Sophie Pierre, who replaced Point as B.C.s chief treaty commissioner, said Point brought a soft wisdom to the job. She said his impact was monumental in the aboriginal community, but his legacy spreads beyond.
It was just an amazing appointment for all British Columbians, she said. He brought a different kind of pizzazz to that position.
B.C. Interior rancher Judith Guichon will official replace Point at a ceremony Friday.
Guichon will arrive at 10 a.m. for an installation ceremony thats expected to last about 90 minutes. The public can see Guichon conduct her first inspection of the guard of honour in front of the legislature at approximately 11:40 a.m.
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