Thanks to Murphy Construction for documenting this process and allowing us to share it here. As friends commented, this work is a gift to future generations. To glimpse back at the earlier form of the doors, see the original sketch, and the work at the half-way point.
As Ashley Gélpcal Joseph completed his carvings on the doors and brought them to lay together as one, he sang songs: The Prayer Song, The Chief Song, Heartbeat Song, and The Pathfinder Song. When the two were reunited again – the first time since he first started creating the male and the female – he sang the Wedding Song.
The stories these doors will tell.
The male wears an eagle on his right sleeve.
“The eagle is our connection to The Creator… being the one that can reach closest,” Ashley explains. In their song, four dancers come out. At the end of each round of the song, all the eagle dancers turn into the middle and swoop up all the prayers in the village. There is a pelt-like offering in the middle, and everyone had a tobacco pouch where they placed their prayers. The lead dancer would carry the prayer pouches out to a pit where a medicine man will offer them to fire, sending the prayers on the smoke to The Creator.
The eggs on his left sleeve represents that the male believes in youth and that he is able to live on forever through teachings. “Teachings live forever; traditional knowledge is of great importance,” says Ashley, “A fisherman passes on his knowledge, so does the basket maker, the hunter, the food gatherers and myself: The Carver.” Ashley adds, ”Once I pass it on to someone else, then it lives forever. My work carries on through another, and they will pick up where I leave off. One day I will rest comfortably knowing that the ways of the Lil’wat are preserved and in the good hands of the next. The one that I will groom and help to shape. The details will be up to them. Knowledge is not to be kept to ourselves.”
He pauses, looks at the canoes and shares, “I thought about bringing the two parts of the canoes together, so the doors join them together, but I decided leave it as is to represent the journey to connection. Ts’zil Learning Centre will be a place to truly connect.”
Thank you Gélpcal for your creation and your words.