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Totem: The Return of the G'psgolox Pole

Totem: The Return of the G'psgolox Pole

| 1 h 10 min

This feature-length documentary traces the journey of the Haisla people to reclaim the G'psgolox totem pole that went missing from their British Columbia village in 1929. The fate of the 19th century traditional mortuary pole remained unknown for over 60 years until it was discovered in a Stockholm museum where it is considered state property by the Swedish government.

Director Gil Cardinal combines interviews, striking imagery and rare footage of master carvers to raise questions about ownership and the meaning of Indigenous objects held in museums.

  • director
    Gil Cardinal
  • narration script
    Gil Cardinal
  • editor
    Marke Slipp
  • associate director
    Marke Slipp
  • director of cinematography
    Daron Donahue
  • additional camera
    Arthur Mercredi
    Stan Jackson
  • sound recordist
    Stan Jackson
    Randy McKenzie
  • original music
    Clode Hamelin
  • musician
    Clode Hamelin
    Michel Dubeau
  • music mixing
    Robert Heaney
  • sound editor
    Downy Karvonen
    Jerry Krepakevich
  • sound mix
    Kelly Cole
    Iain Pattison
  • online editing
    Kevin House
  • colourist
    Joe Owens
  • transcription
    Bridget Toms
  • production assistant
    Claudette Breton
  • clerk
    Ginette D'Silva
  • production supervisor
    Kelly Isaac
  • program administrator
    Darin Clausen
    Margaret Smith
  • producer
    Bonnie Thompson
    Jerry Krepakevich
  • executive producer
    Graydon McCrea


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Ages 16 to 17

Family Studies/Home Economics - Feminism
History and Citizenship Education - Culture and Currents of Thought (1500-present)
History and Citizenship Education - Issues in Society Today
Indigenous Studies - Arts

Before viewing, have students research totem poles and similar artefacts. After viewing, students may examine totems in pop culture (e.g., logos, iPhones) and/or create personal totems. Have media and film students ask: who is the intended audience? how has this film contributed to the return of the pole? how can documentaries nurture tolerance in a diverse society? Students can debate museums' rights to the cultural artefacts of others.

Totem: The Return of the G'psgolox Pole
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