Last month, Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon presented a motion to the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation (Park Board) asking the board to direct staff to explore opportunities “with Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations for co-management of parklands within their traditional territories that are currently under Park Board jurisdiction.”
The motion was discussed at the January 24 Park Board meeting, where Commissioner Mackinnon presented a revised version of the motion, with amendments. The Park Board voted in favour of the motion (5-2).
Musqueam is open to discussions on how we can work with the Park Board to maintain and integrate our traditional knowledge and history of Vancouver into parklands. This motion presents an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with the Park Board by building on existing collaborative work and exploring new ways to collaborate in the future.
But for the work proposed to be successful, it must be done respectfully and in full collaboration with Musqueam.
Stanley Park Working Group
The area now known as Stanley Park is of great significance to Musqueam.
Together with our relatives at Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, Musqueam is working closely with the Park Board on the Stanley Park Intergovernmental Working Group. The group is developing a long-term comprehensive plan for Stanley Park that will protect important heritage sites and integrate Musqueam cultural teachings, protocols and history into the management of the park.
There are many Musqueam site names within the park that speak to our ancestral and ongoing use of the area. These include:
- st̕it̕əwəq̓ʷ – Second Beach
- ƛ̓ces – Deadman’s Island
- spapəy̓əq – Brockton Point
- χʷay̓χʷəy̓ – Lumberman’s Arch
- χaʔχcə – Beaver Lake
- sɬχil̕əx – Siwash Rock
With a long-term plan that includes our Indigenous knowledge and respects our stewardship of the lands and waters, the Park Board, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh will introduce not only a new way of park management, but a new way for locals and tourists to experience Stanley Park.
New Park Board motion for First Nation co-management
The recent motion from Commissioner Mackinnon builds on the work of the Stanley Park Intergovernmental Working Group by exploring opportunities for First Nation co-management of Vancouver parklands.
“Musqueam’s relationship with the City of Vancouver is unique because our main village site remains within the boundaries of the city,” says Chief Wayne Sparrow. “Although we are supportive of assessing what co-management could involve, extensive discussions are needed to ensure Musqueam title is respected.”
This exploratory work should be conducted in the spirit of reconciliation and transparency, with the Park Board seeking guidance from the three Nations to identify locations of parklands and a process that respects our existing protocols and understandings.
Musqueam has many important sites throughout Vancouver, including some of today’s most popular beaches and parks. These include:
- ʔəy̓alməxʷ – Jericho Beach
- sk̓ʷəyəw̓s – Kitsilano Beach
- sən̓aʔqʷ – Vanier Park
- šxʷsyic̓əm – Spanish Banks Beach
- ʔəy̓əlxən – English Bay Beach
With this motion, Park Board staff will work with Musqueam to determine how best to recognize the history of these sites and educate the public.
Barge Chilling Beach
Before Christmas, the Park Board installed a temporary sign on Sunset Beach, near where a barge has been grounded since the November storm surge. The sign was a goodwill gesture from the city to its residents after close to two years of restrictions, isolation, and challenging times due to the pandemic.
Earlier this month, the sign was painted over with the name, Í7iy̓el̓shn, a Squamish form of Musqueam’s name for English Bay Beach, the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ word ʔəy̓əlxən, which means “good under foot”. The Squamish name, Í7iy̓el̓shn, is a diminutive of the Musqueam name and means “little good underfoot.”
This response was emphasizing that a sign was erected quickly for a barge on the beach, but many Vancouver parks do not have Indigenous names or signs with traditional place names.
Although Musqueam wants to see more of our place names throughout the city, the process to rename or ‘Indigenize’ public spaces should be done only after careful and purposeful relationship building.
We are only at the beginning of a truly collaborative relationship with the Park Board. By further exploring how public parks can be co-managed with First Nations – by listening and learning from our experiences with our lands and waters – the Park Board is taking purposeful action to repair a relationship that has long been rooted in colonialism and the denial of our rights. Musqueam looks forward to continuing to collaborate with the Park Board to acknowledge and celebrate Musqueam’s connection to our territory.