Last Monday, the teachers involved with the Quality Teaching and Learning (QTL) project in Richmond visited the Musqueam lands and Cultural Centre in Vancouver. The QTL project in Richmond is looking at ways of incorporating natural materials, indigenous knowledge and stories into playful storytelling experiences that lead to enhanced oral language development in our primary students. The teachers from the four schools involved in the project joined us at Musqueam.
After a lovely local lunch, we visited the current display in the Cultural Centre with many examples of Musqueam weaving and basketry.
We then had a bit of an ecological tour, walking to one of the last wild salmon creeks in Vancouver and seeing the salmonberry bushes in bloom.
We walked through the Musqueam Band administrative offices with its beautifully carved house poles and carvings by local artists displayed inside.
The Big House is sometimes open to the public but was not the day we were there. About six families would have traditionally lived in the Big House and it is still the place for community celebrations like memorials and naming ceremonies.
The street signs in the community included the Halkomelem language.
Our guide also told us about the Chinese market farmers who used to lease land from the Musqueam and lived in small homes on the Band’s land (see the abandoned home in the photo below).
We walked down along the Fraser River and looked across to Lulu Island in the distance, imagining the canoe trips the Musqueam people took up and down the river.
Audrey, our guide, told us some very powerful childhood stories and stories about how residential schools affected her community. As an adult, she has been re-learning the language, has begun knitting and weaving in the traditional Musqueam style and has embraced her culture.
As we joined together to share our own work on the QTL project, we all commented on what an inspirational afternoon it had been. We all felt connected to this place and inspired to share the knowledge we had gained from our afternoon at Musqueam.