BC’s Dark History of Discrimination is Worth Remembering

Weblog #4: Entry #5

My final project focuses on the unique way in which Victoria, BC has represented the Coast Salish culture alongside the British heritage of the city. While my research has revealed some atrocities along the way, I’ve been feeling pretty optimistic about how the city/province has evolved and recognized the Coast Salish nations of the West Coast.

My feelings evaporated when I saw the ‘Indian Policy in BC’ section on the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada site. There is a specific section on the First Nations experience in BC that identifies how BC refused to recognize First Nations land rights, unlike the rest of the provinces in the country, as was the national policy at the time. It seems to me that BC had quite a dark history given its discriminatory actions against the East Indians of the Komagata Maru, the Chinese who were forced into labour on the railroads, the Japanese Internment Camps of WW II and of course the FNs on the same region. While we often chalk these mistakes up to errors of the past and move forward, I think it is important to remember them so that we do not lose sight of the fact that things can always be better and that we should always strive to improve our present situation and understandings.

Site: http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1307460755710/1307460872523

November 27, 2012   No Comments

Auctioning of FN Artifacts: Recommitting a Crime from the Past

Weblog #4: Entry #4

Thinking about ownership and intellectual property rights made me reflect on the raw issue of the ownership of actual property and items that were taken from FN groups under the guise of conversion to Christianity or public welfare in the sense of banning the potlatch. In 2007 the Royal BC Museum put on the Treasures of Tsimshain exhibit. As the site describes the history of the appropriation of FN artifacts by various European groups I pictured to pillaging of artifacts, art and assets by the Nazis in WWII. In both cases, valued treasures were lost to invaders who coveted the items as their own, passing it down to successive generations who not sell them at actions for exorbitant prices. Maybe it is at this point that our collective conscience should exercise some self control and not purchase these items. If no one bids at the auction, then the items themselves become, in essence ‘worthless’. It is then and only then that the false owners will consider returning these items to their rightful owners. So I suppose, although these crimes were committed in the past, but by continuing to participate in such auctions, it is people in today’s society who continue to perpetuate an old crime.

Site: http://www.firstnations.de/indian_land/disinherited.htm

November 27, 2012   No Comments

VNFC, SD 61, 62 and 63, Royal BC Museum: Together on the First Peoples Cultural Awareness Program for Students

Weblog #4: Entry #3

The Victoria Native Friendship Center in partnership with all three greater Victoria School Districts (SDs #61, 62 and 63) and the Royal BC Museum offer the First Peoples Box of Treasures Cultural Awareness Program. What is interesting to note is that this program is targeted at all students and uses in class visits and the museum to bring cultural awareness about FN culture here on Vancouver Island and BC in general. I take from this program that all the partners in program recognize and believe that to be a contributing and well rounded member of the community here in Victoria, BC one must have an awareness of and appreciation for how FN culture is intertwined with the city and the province.



November 25, 2012   No Comments

SD#62: Sooke – Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement

Weblog #4: Entry #2

Since I started ETEC 521, I’ve been wondering how the issue of Western education conflicts with or compliments FN belief systems or ways of knowing. While my question(s) focus more on present day instances of education I am aware of the history of Residential Schools here in Canada. More specifically, I wonder about my school district (SD #62: Sooke) which identifies itself by the Anglicized spelling of the T’So-uke First Nation which resides in the same educational catchment area of southern Vancouver Island.

Our student population is made up of approximately 1000 FN students, or approximately 10% of the students in the district. So how do we, as educators, community members, mentors, leaders etc. educated in Western languages and science, excite, engage and reach out to students from a distinctly different society and culture? Having reflected on the course readings thus far, it is evident that ‘learning’ in school can sometimes run contradictory to FN experiences, stories and values.

Apparently, my school district has been very much concerned with these same concerns and in 2009 proposed the Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement. Skimming this document, linked as off of the site below highlights some differences between Western and FN notions of ‘Student Success’ and the ‘Goals’ of education. I was glad to have taken a look at what things are being done in my own district to recognize the real and honest differences/assumptions that we tend to make about our students and their learning.

Site: http://www.sd62.bc.ca/Programs/AboriginalEducation.aspx

November 24, 2012   No Comments

Camosun College Honors the FN Groups of the Victoria Area

Weblog #4: Entry #1

Having looked at how both the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University demonstrate their respective thanks to the local FN bands/tribes/clans for the land on which these universities presently reside, it only seemed logical to visit the third of the three largest post secondary institutes here in victoria, BC – Camosun College, to complete the comparison.

From the outset, the name Camosun appears to be derived from the name of a Songhees settlement that was near the present day site of the Empress Hotel, in the Victoria causeway. Score one for the community college, as the other two institutions reflect staunchly British names and heritage, which makes sense as we are after all talking about Victoria, British Columbia.

Two easy links from the homepage brings us to the ‘Territory Acknowledgement’ page. A brief introduction is given to the nations which first inhabited these traditional territories. Thanks are given to these same nations for their welcome and graciousness. The site goes on to detail the Legend of Camossung and helps to illustrate the importance of the history, place, people and traditions upon which the college is named. Links to a map of the traditional territories of BC’s FN peoples is prominent. As well there is a link to the Royal BC Museum at the bottom of the page, and a black and white photo of Camossung at the foot of the George Bridge.

Camosun College has by far, in comparison with the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University, done the best job of recognizing the FN groups of their local area.

Site: http://camosun.ca/aboriginal/territory.html

November 20, 2012   No Comments

UVic’s First People’s House on Coast Salish Lands

Weblog #3: Entry #5

While the University of Victoria pays homage to the Coast Salish community of southern Vancouver Island, it does so in an indirect fashion which does not seem to place as much importance on the role FN cultures on the origins of the people or roots of the land. Based on the description of the First Peoples House, perhaps more attention and respect is directed to the local nation(s) through the artwork and structure itself. However, the text on the site does do a fantastic job of welcoming to all nations.

Site: http://web.uvic.ca/inaf/index.php/first-peoples-house

November 7, 2012   No Comments

Royal Roads University Recognizes Coast Salish Lands

Weblog #3: Entry #4

Seems like Royal Roads University (RRU) in Colwood, BC just 20 min Northwest of Victoria, has taken a leading role in recognizing the realities of land claims and title as it relates to the land surrounding the city. More specifically, RRU through it’s website recognizes its history beyond the ownership of the land by 18th century coal barons and mentions the Coast Salish as the original residents. The school then goes on to give thanks to the Coast Salish people for sharing their traditions and teachings with the university. The fact that the Indigenous Relations page is a mere two links away from the home page highlights the importance of FN culture in the Western Communities and RRU has done a good job in keeping this relationship at the forefront rather than burying it within obscure, difficult to find links on their website.

I wonder how UVic’s and Camosun College’s sites deal with the issue of giving land recognition and thanks to local FN groups?

Site: http://www.royalroads.ca/about/indigenous-relations

November 5, 2012   No Comments

A Poor Attempt at Representing FN Culture on Vancouver Island

Weblog #3: Entry #3

Over and over again in my web research for my final project about the inter-related relationship between the FN groups in Victoria/Vancouver Island and how they influenced the BC’s capital, this website kept popping up. I initially brushed it aside as it appeared to be too simplistic and rudimentary to be on any use to me.


However, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to give it a read. At the top of the page is ‘First Nations’ artwork of some four-legged creature with a long tail. I grew up on Vancouver Island and have been exposed to FN art for the majority of my life, yet I have no idea what this creature is. What’s worse is the fact that there is no caption as to what the image portrays, who the artist is, where the original image can be found OR why/how it relates to the information on the site.

Reading the information on the site reveals a cursory introduction to the history of Victoria and the colony of Vancouver Island and then British Columbia. The FN communities are mentioned in the first third of the information and even then are not related in the discussion that follows about European contact and the Fur Trade. So again, I wondered, what is/was the intent of the image at the top of the page?

Sadly, the only answer I can arrive at is that the image is intended to give credibility, as in authenticity of being immersed in FN culture, to the site. Without proper credit to the artist, reference to the importance of the creature to the region or clear link to the visual and the written text, it seems that on this site designers believed that an image is all that’s needed to pass something off as being of FN culture. I hope that others who may have visited this site, or will visit this site, see through the weak attempt at trying to represent FN culture here on Vancouver Island.

Site: http://www.vancouverisland.com/general/details.asp?id=24

November 4, 2012   No Comments

FN Murals in the BC Legislature: 1932 vs. 2007

Weblog #3: Entry #2

Further to Entry #1, this website explores the term ‘Redwashing’ and the implications of murals commissioned in 1932 illustrating FN in Victoria and BC. As it turns out, these 4 murals were removed as they were highly offensive and degrading, to touch on a few aspects of the discussion. Of interest to me is how the removal of these murals highlights how FN groups in Victoria continue to shape the culture of the city/community. In this case, the 1932 murals in the BC Legislative Buildings depicted a primitive and stereotypical version of aboriginal peoples. It took until 2007 for the murals to be removed as a result of a parliamentary motion. This example shows us that with concentrated and continued effort, past wrongs can sometimes be corrected.

Site: http://www.firstnations.de/indian_land/misrepresented.htm

October 31, 2012   No Comments

Aboriginal Title and Rights: Victoria, BC

Weblog 3: Entry #1

What a website! In my initial perusals this site takes on the issue of Aboriginal Title and Rights. With specific reference to the ‘Indian-Land’ Page and the ‘Disinherited’ Link, a magnifying glass is set upon the colonial actions of Queen Victoria and her Government in the role it played in promoting British settlement while subjugating FN culture and society in Victoria BC. The discussions and commentary, with specific examples of murals, buildings, statues and pictures etc. illustrates some of the foundations for present day frustrations and struggles for equality, on the part of FN tribes on the West Coast.

Site: http://www.firstnations.de/indian_land/disinherited.htm

October 29, 2012   No Comments