Charles Joseph, the creator of the work, which honors residential schoolchildren, was on hand for the sendoff ceremony.

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The colorful totem pole in front of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is being removed on Monday.

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The museum announced on Friday that the Residential School Totem Pole, the work of Kwakwaka’wakw artist Charles Joseph, will be returned to its owner in the coming days.

There was a ceremony with Joseph present on Thursday to give a sendoff to the totem pole. Kahnawà:ke elder Otsi’tsaken:ra Patton was also at the ceremony.

The totem pole has been outside the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts building on the north side of Sherbrooke St. W. since 2017. It was slow to the museum by the artist as the starting point of the exhibition La Balade pour la Paix: An Open -Air Museum, held during the celebrations for the 375th anniversary of Montreal’s founding.

The totem pole is a tribute to the Indigenous children, including the artist, who were taken from their families and sent to residential schools from the late 19th century to 1996.

“It has been our privilege to have hosted this monumental work — one reminding us of a tragic time in our history — and to have been able to tell its story to Montrealers,” Stéphane Aquin, director of the museum, said in a statement.

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“Its leaving us will not erase the memory of its teachings. The museum will continue in its mission to show and bring attention to the richness of Indigenous cultures through art.”


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