(Feature Photo credit: Miss604.ca)
I took part in a terrific Land Acknowledgement workshop this past week put on by Nahanee Creative’s founder Ta7talíya Michelle Nahanee, with a moving introduction by Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Chief Janice George. Ta7talíya is a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh decolonizing activist and a brilliant teacher.
One of the reflections to follow from that workshop has led to my first-ever point of difference with Shakespeare — recognizing for the first time, perhaps, that a rose by any other name would not, in fact, be so sweet.
We learned, for instance, that the majestic mountains we call “The Lions,” are actually “The Sisters,” a lasting symbol of peace to the Squamish Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw and Haida peoples. The first name — The Lions — is a colonial reference to a symbol of the British crown. The second — The Sisters — a poetic, powerful, and lasting embodiment of an historic peace treaty.
This area where I live was settled for thousands of years, and yet our city’s name today — Vancouver — comes from a British naval captain, erasing that history. My own title — British Columbia Director of the CMC — stems from the British colonial system that stole this land from its original inhabitants.
But if we look back to their songs and stories, we find a much richer history than we were taught, and I find it both inspirational and revelatory to learn about more than just the very recent past. You can join me on that journey by visiting the Native-Land online map.