The massive western red cedar log estimated to be 800 years old was placed at Carihi Secondary School in Campbell River in February.

It measures 1.7 metres in diameter by over 9 metres long, but the legacy of this huge piece of wood will be even bigger.

“That was the means of the journeys we took, literally, and now we’re on this figurative journey together of understanding each other’s cultures and the journey of reconciliation,” said Wei-Wai-Kum First Nation Chief Councillor Chris Roberts.

The log is now ready for carving and was blessed in a traditional ceremony Tuesday.

The tree came out of the Eve River Valley north of Sayward and was hand-picked by carver Max Chickite and will be turned into a dugout war canoe.

It’s hoped that every student and teacher at the school will have a part in carving the canoe.

The project has been two years in the making.

“The tree was found quite a few years ago,” said Dave Hamilton of BC Timber Sales. “We do legacy tree surveys where we find cedar trees for cultural purposes are the right size.”

The joint project between local First Nations and School District 72 strengthens local reconciliation efforts that are already said to be very positive.

“Anything like this is a step in the right direction and I’ve really noticed quite a change in the school district here in the last 10 years in particular,” said Wei-Wai-Kai First Nation Chief Councillor Brian Assu.

“I think teaching is the biggest offering that we can provide, not only carving but the teaching of unifying,” said Junior Henderson, who will be one of two lead carvers on the project.

Carving on canoe could begin as early as next week.

Dean Stoltz