Exhibitions

c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city

Thursday, January 22, 2015 to Saturday, January 25, 2020

Vancouver has grown up on unceded Coast Salish territory. It is therefore fitting that an exhibition featuring c̓əsnaʔəm, an important ancestral village of the Musqueam First Nation, be the first story of our Vancouver history galleries.

c̓əsnaʔəm, known to archaeologists variously as the Eburne Midden, Great Fraser Midden, and Marpole Midden, recently made headlines when ancient burials were uncovered through urban development and the Musqueam strove to protect them. This collaborative project aims to generate public discussions about heritage and Indigenous history, and to raise awareness of the significance of c̓əsnaʔəm for the Musqueam people and for Vancouver.

The curatorial premise of this project is simple: the bone, stone, and shell objects from c̓əsnaʔəm, which have survived thousands of years, are great catalysts for conversations about the relationship between Indigenous and settler societies in Vancouver. They are reminders of the connections between the history of colonialism, and the continuum of Musqueam culture. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Art, Historical and Scientific Association of Vancouver (MOV’s predecessor) undertook excavations at the Marpole Midden and removed over 1,500 “artefacts” for the museum’s displays, discarding others. The presence of these objects or “belongings” as this exhibition calls them since they were, in fact, personal possessions and ancestral remains in the museum’s collections point to an unsettling history. The museum constructed a story about Vancouver’s past that distanced and excluded the Musqueam, viewing the village as an ancient forerunner to Vancouver instead of as a place of ongoing significance to Musqueam. This exhibition re-examines the historical collection and display practices of the museum itself within this context of colonialism.

The exhibition asks, who's home is Vancouver? How have newcomers claimed Vancouver as their own? How do the Musqueam understand their lengthy connection to this place? Generations of families have lived at c̓əsnaʔəm and other areas in the territory for thousands of years. The exhibition evokes this concept of home through design components that reference a Coast Salish longhouse: a site of residence as well as of political, economic, and ceremonial activities. For the Musqueam, home is much more than a physical space; it is what connects individuals to a much broader web of family relationships and territory.

Oral traditions and Indigenous languages are a central vehicle of cultural expression and identity and play an important role in the exhibition. Visitors are invited to pronounce hən’q’əmin’əm’ words, view an animated version of a Musqueam story, and “meet” several community members through a series of recorded interviews. Displays incorporating 3D digital modelling allow visitors to visualize the context in which cultural objects were used. Visitors can also participate in association games and activities designed for families. Throughout this exploration, visitors are invited to reflect upon Vancouver’s history.

As Musqueam cultural advisor Larry Grant explains, “c̓əsnaʔəm: the city before the city aims at ‘righting history’ by creating a space for Musqueam to share their knowledge, culture and history and to highlight the community’s role in shaping the City of Vancouver.”

 


 

Many thanks to all the c̓əsnaʔəm supporters:

January 29, 2015 / 7:00 PM
SOLD OUT - Curator Talk & Tour: c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city

Join us for an informal talk and tour of the Museum of Vancouver’s highly anticipated exhibition c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city. This Q&A evening will bring together curatorial team and Musqueam community member, Jordan Wilson, and MOV’s curator of Contemporary Culture, Viviane Gosselin, in a conversation touching on several themes in the exhibition: From the importance of traditional teachings, to the revitalisation of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language and history of relationships between Indigenous and settler societies in Vancouver.​​

Ticket price included in admission: $14 General | $11 Seniors & Students | $8 Youth | FREE MOV Members
Get Tickets: This event is sold out.

April 02, 2015 / 7:00 PM
Curator Talk & Tour: c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city | Apr 2
the city before the city
 
Curator Talk & Tour: c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city
 
Join us for an informal talk and tour of the Museum of Vancouver’s landmark exhibition c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city. This Q&A evening will bring together Jason Woolman, exhibition team member and Senior Archivist for the Musqueam First Nation, Morgan Guerin, Musqueam Councillor and advisory committee member, and Viviane Gosselin, MOV’s curator of Contemporary Culture, in a conversation touching on several themes in the exhibition: From the importance of traditional teachings, to the revitalisation of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language and history of relationships between Indigenous and settler societies in Vancouver.
 
Date: Thursday, April 2, 2015
Time: 7:00pm
Admission: $14 General | $11 Seniors & Students | $8 Youth | FREE MOV Members
 
Sponsors
 
June 07, 2015 / 2:00 PM
Talk & Tour: c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city | Jun 7
the city before the city
 
Talk & Tour: c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city
 
Join us for an informal talk and tour of the Museum of Vancouver’s landmark exhibition c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city. This afternoon event will feature Howard Grant, Musqueam First Nation councillor and exhibition advisory committee member, in conversation with Hanna Cho, MOV’s curator of Engagement & Dialogue, for a discussion that delves into the historical, cultural and political significance of the exhibition and its making, as well as the evolution of Musqueam people’s 9,000 year history in Vancouver. We will invite questions and conversation touching on several themes in the exhibition: From the importance of traditional teachings, to the revitalisation of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language, and to the history of relationships between Indigenous and settler societies in Vancouver.
 
Date: Sunday, June 7, 2015
Time: 2:00pm
Admission: $14 General | $11 Seniors & Students | $8 Youth | FREE MOV Members
 
Sponsors
September 20, 2015 / 2:00 PM
Talk & Learn: c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city
,
the city before the city
 
Talk & Learn: c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city
 
Join us for an informal talk and tour of the Museum of Vancouver’s landmark exhibition c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city. This afternoon talk from Larry Grant and Jill Campbell from the Musqueam First Nation will feature an introduction to Musqueam’s traditional language, and touch on the historical, cultural and political significance of revitalizing hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓. We will invite questions and conversation touching on several themes in the exhibition, and offer participants the opportunity to learn some key phrases and building blocks of the language. Advance registration for this interactive talk are strongly encouraged; youth and families welcome!
 
Date: Sunday, September 20, 2015
Time: 2:00pm
Admission: General $14 | Seniors & Students $11  | Youth $8 | Family $38 | MOV Members FREE
Get Tickets: Call 604 736 4431 ext. 0
 
About Larry and Jill:
 
Larry Grant is a Musqueam elder, born and raised in Musqueam traditional territory by a traditional hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking Musqueam family. After 4 decades as a tradesman, Larry enrolled in the FNLG program, which awoke his memory of the embedded value that the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language has to self-identity, kinship, culture, territory, and history prior to European contact. He is presently assisting in revitalizing hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and co-teaching an introductory hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ course for the First Nations Languages Program at the University of British Columbia.
 
Jill Campbell is a member of the Musqueam Indian Band, and manager of its Musqueam Language and Culture Department. Since its inception in 1997, she has worked in numerous positions including Adjunct Professor with the First Nations Languages Program at the University of British Columbia. Jill has been working with the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language for almost 30 years. She is passionate about language revitalization and her community.

 
 
Sponsors
July 07, 2016 / 7:00 PM
c̓əsnaʔəm Discussion Series featuring archeology fieldwork and traditional tool making with Wayne Point
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Join us for a discussion on Aboriginal archeology and traditional tool making with Musqueam community member Wayne Point. 

Learn about the role of First Nations community members in archaeological site protection, and how the knowledge of Musqueam ancestors continues through today. Participants discover that some excavated stones are not simply rock. They were an important part of daily living, used to shape slate tools, sharpen knives and in some cases provide a final polish for tools. This session will also share knowledge about the sophisticated fishing technologies that were created by Musqueam ancestors, including toggling harpoons, cod lures, herring rakes, and three-prong spears made of antlers.
 

c̓əsnaʔəm: the city before the city creates a space for Musqueam to share their knowledge, culture and history and to highlight the community’s role in shaping the City of Vancouver.  c̓əsnaʔəm, known to archaeologists variously as the Eburne Midden, Great Fraser Midden, and Marpole Midden, aims to generate public discussions about heritage and Indigenous history, and to raise awareness of the significance of c̓əsnaʔəm for the Musqueam people and for Vancouver.

Date: Thursday, July 7

Time: 7:00pm 
 
Tickets: $15 adults; $11 Students & Seniors; Free for MOV Members 
 
 

 

September 15, 2016 / 7:00 PM
c̓əsnaʔəm Discussion Series featuring Alec Dan [Postponed]
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Presentation and discussion with Musqueam community member Alec Dan.

Alec Dan returns to MOV to present and explore themes from the exhibition c̓əsnaʔəm: the city before the city. He will share his experience taking part in the c̓əsnaʔəm vigil to protect this 4,500 year old village and cemetery from development in 2012 and draw connections between past and present Musqueam culture and heritage. 

c̓əsnaʔəm: the city before the city creates a space for Musqueam to share their knowledge, culture and history and to highlight the community’s role in shaping the City of Vancouver.  c̓əsnaʔəm - known to archaeologists variously as the Eburne Midden, Great Fraser Midden, and Marpole Midden - aims to generate public discussions about heritage and Indigenous history, and to raise awareness of the significance of c̓əsnaʔəm for the Musqueam people and for Vancouver.

Date: TBD

Time: TBD
 
Tickets: $15 adults; $11 Students & Seniors; Free for MOV Members
 
 
 
 

 

Sponsors

c̓әsnaʔәm, the city before the city on Novus TV

The City Before The City on Shaw TV

Video (Posted: 12/03/15)

The City Before The City on Shaw TV

Tiffany Gurden interview MOV's Viviane Gosselin about the c̓əsnaʔəm exhibition.
Video (Posted: 30/01/15)
NovusTV explores Musqueam exhibition
Video (Posted: 12/03/15)
The City Before The City on Shaw TV
December 02, 2014 / 3:59 PM
Unprecedented, Three-Site Exhibition Reveals Archaeological & Cultural Origins of Vancouver

VANCOUVER, BC – Musqueam First Nation, the Museum of Vancouver (MOV), and the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC partner on a groundbreaking exploration of the city’s ancient landscape, and Musqueam’s early history and living culture. c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city is a series of three distinct exhibitions, opening simultaneously on January 25, 2015. The unified exhibitions will connect Vancouverites with c̓əsnaʔəm – one of the largest ancient village and burial sites upon which Vancouver was built – sharing its powerful 5,000-year history and continuing significance.

“People often think of Vancouver as a new city, when in fact it is one of the most significant sites of ancient cultures in Canada – one that has even been compared to other societies such as the Egyptian and Roman societies,” says Terry Point, Co-Curator of the Musqueam First Nation and MOV exhibitions. “Visitors to c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city will learn it is part of an ancient landscape, and will discover aspects of Musqueam heritage, culture, and knowledge that have never before been shared with the public.”

Located in the area now commonly known as the neighbourhood of Marpole in Vancouver, c̓əsnaʔəm is imbued with the history and culture of the Musqueam people. First occupied almost 5,000 years ago, c̓əsnaʔəm became one of the largest of Musqueam’s village sites approximately two thousand years ago. Generations of families lived at what was then the mouth of the Fraser River, harvesting the rich resources of the delta.

Over the past 125 years, archaeologists, collectors, and treasure hunters have mined the c̓əsnaʔəm village and burial ground for artifacts and ancestral remains, many of which are in museums and private collections locally and abroad. The land has been given various names since colonialism, including Great Fraser Midden, Eburne Midden, DhRs-1, and Marpole Midden – a name under which it would receive designation as a National Historic Site in 1933.

Today, intersecting railway lines, roads, and bridges to Richmond and YVR Airport, and a miscellaneous assortment of buildings and developments obscure the heart of Musqueam’s traditional territory. The significance of c̓əsnaʔəm to the Musqueam community remains undiminished despite this. In 2012, Musqueam community members held a 200+ day vigil when ancestral remains were unearthed at c̓əsnaʔəm, putting a stop to a proposed condominium development.

Opening simultaneously in January of 2015, these three c̓əsnaʔəm exhibitions will bring the rich history of the Musqueam Nation to the attention of Greater Vancouver audiences. Each exhibition will highlight a distinctive aspect of the significance of c̓əsnaʔəm:

Musqueam Cultural Education Resource Centre & Gallery
Curated by Leona M. Sparrow, Co-curated by Terry Point, Jason Woolman, and Larissa Grant this exhibition focuses on the sophistication of Musqueam knowledge and technology past and present. It makes connections through a continuum of knowledge and expertise over time. The exhibition will feature oral histories, community interviews, hәn̓q̓әmin̓әm̓ language associated with c̓әsnaʔәm belongings on display, and artifact recreation. It will be on display for a minimum of one year.

Museum of Vancouver (MOV)
This multi-year exhibition draws multiple connections between c̓əsnaʔəm artifacts, Indigenous ways of knowing, colonialism, heritage politics, cultural resilience, and contemporary Musqueam culture. It will include graphic and 3D modelling of maps and artifacts, original videography, family-friendly interactivity, and soundscapes blending traditional and modern sounds. The MOV exhibition is the work of a curatorial collective from Terry Point, Susan Roy, Viviane Gosselin, Larissa Grant, Leona Sparrow, Jordan Wilson, Jason Woolman, and Susan Rowley and will be on display for a minimum of five years.

Museum of Anthropology (MOA)
Focusing on Musqueam identity and worldview, and Curated by Sue Rowley and Jordan Wilson, this exhibition will highlight language, oral history, and the community’s recent actions to protect c̓əәsnaʔəәm. Rich in multi-media, it will demonstrate Musqueam’s continuous connection to their territory, despite the many changes to the land. This exhibition will be on display for one year.

Programs
As a way to further educate, enrich, and connect with people, public programming and events will be offered throughout the duration of the exhibitions’ run. The complete range of public programs will include a series of curated tours, cultural exchanges with Musqueam artists, elders, and activists, and cultural tours from Musqueam youth.

For further exhibition information, including complete details on public programs, please
visit: thecitybeforethecity.com

About Musqueam First Nation:
Musqueam First Nation are traditional hәn̓q̓әmin̓әm̓ speaking people whose territory, and dozens of villages, encompasses much of what is now the Greater Vancouver Regional District. Extensive networks of trade and relations radiate up and down the coast and into the interior. Although a metropolitan city has developed in the heart of Musqueam territory, the community maintains strong cultural and traditional beliefs and these networks. Families teach and pass on this traditional knowledge and history to their people, to keep culture and traditions strong. Musqueam people continue to thrive, with a population of over 1,200 people; relying on the guiding principles of knowing who they are and where they come from and the responsibilities they share. Nearly half of Musqueam lives on a very small portion of their traditional territory, known as the Musqueam Indian Reserve #2, located south of Marine Drive near the mouth of the Fraser River.

About MOV:
The Museum of Vancouver (MOV) connects Vancouverites to each other and connects Vancouver to the world. The museum is a gathering place that encourages social engagement and inspires conversation about the future. MOV exhibitions and collections invite exploration of contemporary issues and stories from the past. MOV activities ignite a passion for Vancouver and its people. The museum, an enthusiastic advocate for the city, is an independent non-profit organization that depends on support from the community.

About MOA
The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is worldrenowned for its collections, research, teaching, public programs, and community connections. Founded in 1949 in the basement of the Main Library at UBC, its mission is to inspire understanding of and respect for world arts and cultures. Today, Canada's largest teaching museum is located in a spectacular building overlooking mountains and sea. MOA houses more than 42,000 ethnographic objects and 535,000 archaeological objects, including many, which originate from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia. The Koerner Gallery features one of Canada’s most important European ceramics collections, while MOA's recently opened Multiversity Galleries provide public access to more than 10,000 objects from around the world.

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For further media information, contact
Laura Murray I T. 604.558.2400 I C. 604.418.2998
lmurray@lauramurraypr.com