Virtual Toxic Tour

Welcome to the UBC Virtual Toxic Tour! This interactive map takes you to several stops on campus. The map is meant to recontextualize UBC as an interdependent location tied to various communities in the area and elsewhere. As UBC students, faculty, or visitors, it is easy to forget the networks on the ground that link us to struggles in far off places and even beneath our feet. It is important to be consistently aware that our actions and actions taken by our administration are not independent nor isolated. We ask you to consider if UBC students and faculty should hold themselves socially responsible for the actions taken by UBC and the Canadian government with regards to resource extraction and occupation of indigenous territory.

  • Are we complicit in these actions?

Hopefully, this tour, both physical and virtual, aids in closing the distance between “here” and “there”, and “us” and “them”.

The map displayed below consists of two layers: Donations Made to UBC and Unceded Musqueam Territory. The first layer draws connections between funds received by mining companies — reaching the millions — for the construction of buildings on campus with mining site locations in Latin America. With research help from Stop the Institute, the descriptions beneath the photographs detail the figures of these large donations and the struggles fought at corresponding mining site against these very companies from which we are benefiting. This layer asks you to question:

  • Why do mining companies donate such large sums of money?
  • Why should we be the ones receiving the benefits at other people’s expense?
  • What role does UBC, and UBC students and faculty play in this relationship? Should they be held responsible?
  • What roles does Canada (as a nation who backs risky resource extraction internationally and nationally) play in this relationship? Should Canada be held responsible?

The second layer — Unceded Musqueam Territory — draws us deeper into our occupation on unceded Musqueam land and encourages us to reflect on the erasure of Musqueam history, culture, and language through the development of the UBC Vancouver campus. Thanks to Sarah Ling and Spencer Lindsay from Knowing the Land Beneath our Feet, this layer features two videos about the naming process for two dormitory buildings at Totem Park Residence that took place in collaboration with the Musqueam community. Watch the videos about q̓ələχən and həm̓ləsəm̓ the initiative and the story behind these Musqueam names. For a more in depth interactive map displaying Musqueam place names, live videos, and photographs please visit Musqueam A Living Culture and be sure to follow the Musqueam community’s terms of use. Also included in this layer are several sites and partnerships devoted to revitalizing Musqueam history, culture, and language. For more information on one of these projects — c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city — please visit their website here. You can go to this free exhibit at the Museum of Anthropology on campus anytime until January 2016. When exploring this layer we ask you to reflect upon the following questions:

  • What is the nature of our relationship as occupants of unceded Musqueam territory with the Musqueam people?
  • What are some challenges and issues that Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples on campus can address in dialogue with one another?
  • What can we do to remain actively reflective of our relationship with the land?
  • How can we decolonize our knowledge and actions?

How it works: Click on the blue place marks to explore photographs and read up on how much funding has been received by respective mining companies and the relationships these companies have with indigenous struggles to defend their land in Latin America. Click on the green place marks to learn more about the projects and monuments that are actively working to decolonize our knowledge on campus surrounding our relationship with Musqueam peoples.

If you are near UBC, Vancouver, be sure to take the tour on the ground by downloading our map.

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