The Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives (SCMA) celebrated the grand opening of their newly renovated, more accessible museum on Oct. 1.
The doors were opened for 120 people last Saturday, for the traditional welcoming ceremony performed by Tsawaysia Spukwus Alice Guss and her daughter Dominique Nahanee. They sang Hope Hope Chay, a song by Guss’s great-great-grandfather, Sa7palek Chief Joe Capilano.
At a potlatch, Guss explained, “we would call the nations. When we called their nation they would get up and dance. That’s how we honour them and recognize them when they come to a potlatch.”
As part of the welcoming ceremony, Guss had all the guests get up and do animal dances, demonstrated by Dominique.
“Because I didn’t know all your nations, I thought I’d make it fun and honour the animals, because the animals bring teachings, too,” Guss said.
There was also a ribbon and cake cutting ceremony carried out by Pamela Goldsmith-Jones – MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country – and Gibsons Mayor Wayne Rowe.
“We’re here because of your commitment to accessibility and inclusion,” Goldsmith-Jones said. “That drive never stops. The broader we can be, the broader we can listen, the more we can hold our hands up to one another, the stronger our communities are and the deeper our understanding across cultures and peoples and time. I’m very pleased to be here.”
Rowe praised the work done by the museum’s board of directors and also commented on the large turnout.
“The turnout here demonstrates the interest in our community for the museum,” Rowe said. “I want to thank the Regional District for continuing to be engaged in funding this – it’s very important to our community.”
He also asked the public to sign up as members.
“The museum needs members,” Rowe said. “Please, if you’re not a member, take out a membership because that’s what helps to make this possible for our community.”
The grand opening included a new exhibit at the museum titled “Syets-chet Ihen-tumulh txwchelhk w-anam,” or “Our Stories Woven Through Time.”
This is the third in a series of co-curated exhibits with the Squamish Nation. It explores the deep tradition of Coast Salish Weaving, and was co-curated by Alison Pascal of the Squamish Lilwat Cultural Centre and Matthew Lovegrove of the SCMA.
“Salish weaving was one of the specialties through the Coast Salish communities in the Squamish Nation,” Pascal said. “We wanted to honour the women and the families who dedicated their time to making these blankets. The blankets were not only for warmth or as a means to living, they’re very spiritual, they’re thought of as protection for the family. To receive them as gifts is a symbol of love and protection, so they’re very valuable within the communities.”
One of the blankets on display – woven by Anjeanette Dawson of the Squamish Nation – was created to honour the chiefs who travelled to England in 1906 to meet with King Edward VII to discuss the rights of Aboriginal people in B.C. The design is based on the blanket worn by Chief Joe Capilano.
“We started collaborating with Squamish Nation in 2010-11 for an exhibit on Squamish Nation stone tools,” Lovegrove said. “That was the first collaboration that we did, co-curating an exhibit. The second one was a Squamish canoe exhibit. We had a large Squamish canoe and we portrayed the tradition of being on the water and canoe culture in the Squamish Nation.
“This is the third in the series. It feels good, it’s been going on for about six years almost so it feels really good to get it up,” Lovegrove said.
The Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives is in Lower Gibsons on Winn Road. Find out more on their website at www.sunshinecoastmuseum.ca.