Friday, July 12, 2013

Vancouver, BC

Driving through Vancouver was so much easier than any large city I've tackled so far.  Even though it was a Friday afternoon the traffic was at a minimum and moved at a very sane pace.

However, parking was all but nonexistent when I sought out this wonderful museum. I drove around a few blocks and finally pounced on a meter but then discovered I didn't have any Canadian coin!  A postcard purchase in the gift shop took care of the coin and I raced back to the meter hoping I would not find a ticket.  Success!

I knew nothing at all about the Canadian Aboriginal peoples that the British Columbians refer to as "First Nations".

I do know that I am really fascinated by their artwork...

and am pretty sure, that taken as a whole, they have a great sense of humor.

I would love to know the story behind this one.

The size of their creations is impressive.

No puny little namby-pamby icons for these people.

Which, from the early 1800s, must have contributed to the determination that the Christians felt to label the First Nation's people as 'wild' and in great need of 'Mission civilisatrice', (the French phrase for Westernizing those backwards heathens).
By the 1890s children were being forcefully taken from their families and sent away to mission schools to become christianized. 

By the early 1900's the native's Potlatch celebrations had all but ceased due to government edict....

"During these gatherings they lose months of time, waste their substance, contract all kinds of diseases and generally unfit themselves for being British subjects in the proper sense of the word."
William Halliday, 1918
Indian Agent, Alert Bay

"....there is absolutely no danger of any great potlatches taking place again."
William Halliday, 1922
Indian agent, Alert Bay

"History has transplanted us. But we haven't forgotten where we came from."
Nella Nelson, 1986

"The reasons for giving potlatches are the same as they were in the past--naming children, mourning the dead, transferring rights and privileges, and less frequently, marriages or the raising of memorial totem poles......

Gloria Cranmer Webster, 1991

It was not until the 1980s that the First Nation's rituals were finally restored and the forced indoctrination of the children was banned.  

"This sculpture in yellow cedar represents the Haida Legend of the raven discovering men in a clamshell, on a beach at Rose Spit, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia."

A picture of Bill Reid's sculpture is now on the back of every Canadian $20 bill.


  1. Toni,
    I have greatly enjoyed your travels through the Northwest. You really make me want to see it for myself. And in these pictures from the museum you've outdone yourself. Beautiful photos! Thanks for posting these.
    We talked about you at the Red Garter on the 4th of July. Were your ears burning?

    1. They were indeed. I thought it was some of that cheap wine. Thanks for the comment, Lynda. Hi, to everyone there.....Toni

  2. Isn't this a great museum! You got some wonderful shots. I think I should go back and look at my photos, too. Did you take any pix of the outside of the museum and the village house there with the totem poles in front of it?