The buffalo head that greets all those entering the lobby of the Wood Buffalo Detachment Headquarters building has a new home. The unveiling of the revitalized buffalo head, as well as the wall-mounted frames containing replications of Treaty 8 (the agreement signed on June 21, 1899, between Oueen Victoria and the various First Nations of Lesser Slave Lake area) and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (proclaimed in force on April 17, 1982) were all part of the rededication ceremony that took place on August 23, 2013 at the Timberlea RCMP Building.
The wood-working masterpiece on which the buffalo head now resides was the creation and hard work of a local Fort McMurray senior. Mr. John van’t Wout, is an expert in wood carving and is also one of the instructors at Keyano College in the carpentry department.
Mr. van’t Wout immigrated to Canada from Holland following World War II, and distinctly remembers watching the Canadian Troops as they marched into town after they liberated the country from wartime occupation. This was one of the main reasons he moved to Canada, and as such he was honoured to be a part of the RCMP Centennial. Mr. van’t Wout kindly volunteered his time to create the hand carved piece made of Maple hardwood that took some 400 hours to complete.
Twelve maple leaves surround the buffalo head that represent our nation. Six of those leaves are red to highlight the relevance to our community, as they represent the six Aboriginal nations within the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. We were privileged to welcome Mr. van’t Wout and thank him for his dedication and commitment at the official unveiling.
Others who attended the festivities and continued centennial celebrations included community Elders, RCMP dignitaries representing the district and the division, as well as local political leaders and other prominent members of the community.