Robert Yelton looks up at the totem pole and says the eagle is his daughter Lenora and the raven below is him.
His son, Peter, is the wolf. At the very bottom is his mother – holding them all up.
Yelton carved the pole in 2009 and it sits among others in the Vancouver’s Stanley Park.
So when his family saw it on a beer advertisement during a trip in Hawaii a few months ago he couldn’t believe it.
“How could Budweiser do that, you know?” he said. “Just to come and take our culture and not even to ask or have any consideration is not right.”
Shain Jackson is a former lawyer and now a full-time artist and thinks it’s blatant copyright infringement.
“Would they have been so arrogant to go and take a non-Indigenous artists work? Do they come after our Indigenous artists work because they know we don’t have the resources to after them in court?” he said.
Luckily for Yelton lawyers from across Canada and the United States have agreed to represent him pro bono and have ensured his copyright on the totem pole.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that Yelton is a recovering alcoholic since 1976 and became a drug and alcohol counsellor.
He said there’s no way he’d let his work represent something he’s been fighting all these years.
Budweiser didn’t immediately respond to questions from APTN News.