A local Ojibway artist is leaving his mark at this year’s Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto with a 28-foot totem pole.
Kris Nahrgang’s creation was unveiled at Exhibition Place’s Heritage Court and will be on display beginning Friday.
The artist from Big Cedar (approximately 40 minutes north of Peterborough) carved the intricate totem pole from a white cedar tree.
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Dubbed the “Unity Pole,” it features vibrant colours and several symbols and animals representing unity, emotion and strength.
“Canada is such a beautiful country and it’s so diverse, but at the same time it’s all one,” said Nahrgang, current chief of the Kawartha Nishnawbe First Nation. “And we need to work together as one group of people.”
The pole is one of the Ex’s first artistic commissions since the 1940s. It will be on display until Sept. 4 but then moved to a permanent location yet to be determined.
Nahrgang has worked full-time as an artist since 1991, but primarily focuses on stone sculptures. He said he was pleased with the creative freedom the CNE gave him in designing the work.
Nahrgang notes that for him, the totem pole has nothing to do with reconciliation for First Nations.
“I’m hoping the pole will simply stand for unity,” he said.