This page is where we post things like videos, recordings of virtual events, art and stories by participants and artists, and our learning and research. We'll keep adding content here as the project progresses. 

How to say "Nu chexw kw’átchnexw kwétsi sḵel̓áw̓?"Senaqwila Wyss
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This project takes inspiration from Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s writing about beavers, particularly in A Short History of the Blockade, Giant Beavers, Diplomacy, and Regeneration in Nishnaabewin. Simpson writes that In Nishnaabeg culture, the beaver represents wisdom, specifically “the art of kindness in knowledge.” The beaver, she explains, creates a “shared world” that benefits many other animals and plants. She likens the beaver’s dam to the Indigenous-led blockades in support of the Wet’suwet’en opposing Coastal Gas Link’s pipeline through their territory. Beavers remind us that some forms of obstruction can be life-sustaining sites for building community. We are interested in exploring these and other beaver teachings.  

 

Near the end of A Short History of the Blockade, Simpson writes:

“There is currently a beaver resurgence of sorts happening on Turtle Island. Beavers have been seen round dancing in malls, blockading ports and intersections, holding teach-ins at universities, handing out filly gnawed beaver sticks to hikers. Urban beavers have started to cut down trees in parks and along rivers build dams over urban creeks, flood the odd trail or basement. They’ve starred in their own Imax movie, enticed scientists into studies, and rejected the stereotype of felt hat form something truer to their form.

And while there are still those among us who would trap or shoot or relocate, there are also those that are watching quietly, learning, thinking through world making together with the beaver.”

We are one such project, seeking to learn about our histories and our futures from the beaver.

 

You can listen to Simpson’s 2020 Kreisel Lecture here: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/the-brilliance-of-the-beaver-learning-from-an-anishnaabe-world-1.5534706 

A time lapse video of Jolene Andrew drawing a beaver using North West Coast design. 

Beaver and Frog Drawings by Storytelling and Drawing Workshop Participants 
Beaver by Nadina Tandy
Beaver by Nadina Tandy

Pencil sketch of a beaver using Northwest Coast design

Frog by Nadina Tandy
Frog by Nadina Tandy

Pencil sketch of a frog using Northwest Coast design

Beaver
Beaver

Drawing of a beaver using Northwest Coast design

Beaver by Nadina Tandy
Beaver by Nadina Tandy

Pencil sketch of a beaver using Northwest Coast design

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Three children near Old Mount Pleasant Beaver dam
Three children near Old Mount Pleasant Beaver dam

Visual description: Three children stand by a stream all three are holding sticks and looking at the camera. The children are standing in front of a short leafless tree and in the background a streetcar is crossing a small bridge. Archival photo, Mar. 1940, City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 136-532

Three children near Old Mount Pleasant Beaver dam
Three children near Old Mount Pleasant Beaver dam

Visual description: Three children stand by a stream all three are holding sticks and looking at the camera. Behind them a street car is going by. Archival photo, Mar. 1940, City of Vancouver Archives,

Old Beaver dam in Mount Pleasant, with girl by stream
Old Beaver dam in Mount Pleasant, with girl by stream

Visual description: Child crouches by a stream with a stick in their hand. In the background are grasses and a building on wood stilts. City of Vancouver Archives, March 1940, CVA 136-529

Three children near Old Mount Pleasant Beaver dam
Three children near Old Mount Pleasant Beaver dam

Visual description: Three children stand by a stream all three are holding sticks and looking at the camera. The children are standing in front of a short leafless tree and in the background a streetcar is crossing a small bridge. Archival photo, Mar. 1940, City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 136-532

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Photos from the Vancouver Archives, March 1940.

Three children near Old Mount Pleasant Beaver dam (CVA 136-533), Three children near Old Mount Pleasant Beaver dam (CVA 136-532), and Old Beaver dam in Mount Pleasant, with girl by stream (CVA 136-529)

By the 1940s, Mt. Pleasant was a mostly residential area with some commercial space along the main roads. The mouth of Brewery Creek was filled in during WWI but remnants of Brewery Creek remained visible. 

Weaving History & Stories: Interview with Tracy Williams and Senaqwila Wyss + Live Q&A

A conversation between Jolene Andrew, Tracy Williams, and Senaqwila Wyss about the role of weaving in Squamish history, stories, and community building. The conversation will focus on memories and stories of MST territories and how families transmit knowledge and teachings through weaving. Q&A with Tracy and Senaqwila following the interview.

 

Recorded May 13, 2021

 

Full transcript of the event available here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gaGBb9ZwoqbrByX6ef-jphJolmysda0fapjfFvezuSU/edit?usp=sharing

About Tracy, Senaqwila, and Jolene:

Tracy

My ancestral name is Sesemiya, and I am a member of the Skwxwu7mesh (Squamish) Nation.

 

I am very interested in ALL things Coast Salish; traditional ecological knowledge; Skwxwu7mesh snichem (language); and cultural revitalization. I have been a basket weaver for over 20 years and descend from a long line of weavers. As such, I have intensively pursued my passion for a deep understanding of plants, animal fibres, foraging for wild food, spinning wild fibres, and learning how to read our traditional landscape from the perspective of a “Gatherer”. I am far from the life that my Skwxwumesh Ancestors have walked – and yet, bit by bit – I am rediscovering the value of fire; my unique relationship to plants and how they transform into food, fibre, or medicine; and the depth of knowledge that lays in the ocean. I have come back home to the Land, to her secrets and mysteries that have only begun to reveal themselves to me. And it is for this reason that I seek the pathway of a Salish Gatherer.

Senaqwila Wyss is Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), Tsimshian, Sto:lo, Hawaiian and Swiss. She holds a Bachelors of the Arts Degree in the faculty of Communications, Arts and Technology, minor in First Nations Studies. She also holds a First Nations Languages Proficiency Certificate in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim, and is pursuing her diploma in furthering her fluency and proficiency in the Squamish language. She and her husband are raising their 4 year old daughter , and adopted her 8 year old niece, to be first language speakers, which has not been done in her family four generations after colonial impacts, also learning his Líl̓wat Ucwalmicwts language. She practices ethnobotany with traditionally trained mom Cease Wyss with indigenous plant medicines. Senaqwila was raised learning these ancestral teachings and uses plants as teas, medicines, tinctures and ceremony. Her children are being raised with these medicines as well.

Jolene Andrew is a Gitksan Witsuwiten community organizer, artist, and facilitator specializing in urban Indigenous approaches to community health, education, justice, and social development. Jolene brings expertise in facilitating community dialogue, like her project “Re-surfacing History: Land and Life in Mount Pleasant”, a program aimed at developing a community process that identifies factors that interfere with creating and sustaining cultural connections. Jolene’s artwork explores animal symbolism and how it can be depicted to learn inter-connection between land and all living things.

Artist/poet Respondent jaz whitford

 

We are working with jaz whitford as an artist/poet respondent. jaz will create several small or maybe one larger work at the end of the project responding to each event and the project as a whole. jaz's work will be posted on this page and will be screened on the Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen in fall 2021. We are so thankful to work with jaz. 

 

jaz is a 2 spirit anti-professional, working as an interdisciplinary artist centering community care, ancestral connections and qtpoc relief. they live semi-nomadically, along the unceded west coast of turtle island as well as the interior of so-called british columbia. jaz’s ancestry ties them to unceded secwepemcúl’ecw in the southern interior of so-called british columbia and more distantly to scotland, though the bulk of their work has bloomed within the traditional territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm , skwxwú7mesh, səl̓ilwətaɁɬ təməxʷ, Stó:lō, and Secwe̓pemc nations

where they have been overwhelmed with the warmheartedness, generosity and support of the host nations and indigiqueer community.