Monday, August 15, 2016

There Was a City Before the City

"In the short space of a hundred years, the City of Vancouver has grown up to a huge monster, which has almost swallowed our land." Chief Delbert Guerin, 1977

From July 11-15th I am in Vancouver, traditional territory of the unceded xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations.

I am attending the Historical Thinking Summer Institute located at the Museum of Vancouver. I am staying with a friend on Comox, so every morning I walk down to the ocean, follow the beach, cross the water and by 8:30 a.m. find the MOV (near Grandville Island).

We are here to learn more about The Big Six: Historical Thinking Concepts written by Peter Seixas and Tom Morton ; we are also here to network with curators, educators, and librarians from across the country.

I am here to find new ways in to our shared history, especially our shared Treaty stories. I am here to educate myself as an ally and to find others on this journey of learning our truth and then walking together toward reconciliation.

We process so much in the week, I am nearly overwhelmed. My first big ah-ha is learning that there was a city before there was a Vancouver. Of course, I knew there were people, but I've been visiting Vancouver since I was a girl, with cousins living on the Island and my dear Uncle Tom in Burnaby. I learn that Greater Vancouver is the biggest clear cut in all of British Columbia.

Walking alongside the beach, in a city that loves it's outdoor living, I wonder what it looked like before the newcomers came. I wonder what the newcomers will do when they wake to the reality that they have never made Treaties with the first peoples of this territory.



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