May 31, 2012

Ancient repository under threat -- Vancouver's history may be erased by stubborn bulldozer ...

This is a letter I just wrote to the premier of my province as well as to other government officials with regards to c̓əsnaʔəm, the historical site at the Marpole Midden. (Their FB page has some terrific coverage of their activism too.) Whether or not you are a citizen of Canada, feel free to write to the premier et al and encourage them to assist in creating a resolution to this standoff for the Musqueam Band of Vancouver. As I argue below, if this were the western so-called Cradle of Civilization, rather than the history of the aboriginal people who's family have occupied this land for some 4000 years, this act would be a complete outrage. I mean, remember Bin Laden and the Buddhist statues?! I do. How is this so different?

Dear Premier and MLAs,

As a longtime resident of Vancouver and a lifelong resident of the lower mainland I am writing to express my full support for the Musqueam Band with regards to the heritage site at the Marpole Midden.

It is imperative that we show the Musqueam our understanding of their values, especially that of their ancestry. That he remains of three individuals were unearthed earlier this year should be reason alone to seek a positive outcome for the Musqueam. If it is sacred to them, at the very least we should show our respect of this belief, regardless of our own, or our lack of belief.

I also understand this land had been a "disposal" site, which to me suggests there exists an amazing history to the property -- a repository if you will of invaluable artifacts that will tell us stories of an early civilization in existence long before your family or mine arrived. If this were Ancient Mesopotamia, we would be outraged at the indiscriminate digging that is being attempted on the site. What is the difference here? I believe it is this: you and I were not educated in school about anything but the superiority of Christianity, European culture and colonial righteousness. Whether or notyour ancestral burial grounds or the remnants of your ancestors lives is of value to you should not come into play in this situation: a group of people with long ties to this land do, and this must be taken into serious consideration.

I understand that there may exist complications with stopping this development -- perhaps the presale of this development has begun, perhaps the "owners" are obstinate. No matter. Conflicts such as these are worked through all the time and can be sorted through here. This land was earmarked nearly a century ago, and should be developed with pride and in support of a better education for our children: Hamish, Georgia, Korinne and Adam. Many of us believe you have no choice but to step up and work this issue through to a fair and acceptable outcome. Find a way to allow for the exchange of land so that the Musqueam may develop a visitor's interpretive centre and park as they've proposed. If you must, imagine yourself at a ribbon cutting for both sites and the terrific press a positive outcome could have on both situations. Imagine the legacy you will leave in your wake.

My understanding of true history is one that includes the stories of more than the "dominant" culture that came to this land. We owe it both to the Musqueam children and to our own to together create a more balanced story of this land so that together we may have a cohesive and balanced future.

Do the right thing. Work with the Musqueam and the developers to create an improved Vancouver that reflects an irreplaceable story of its past.


Karen - Vancouver, BC

Feel free to write these people (or tweet them) yourself:  

Premier Clark
Twitter @christyclarkbc
3615 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V6R 1P2

Hon. Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
Twitter: @MaryPolak
102 – 20611 Fraser Highway
Langley, BC
V3A 4G4

Hon. Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
102 – 2121 Ethel Street
Kelowna, BC
V1Y 2Z6

Moira Stilwell, Vancouver-Langara
Facebook: ;
365 – 5740 Cambie Street
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 3A6

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Government of Canada.


  1. You know what I think? I think the rest of us are using the internet to write erotica (cough) or complain about motherhood (cough cough). And you're using it to change the world. And I think that's awesome.

    1. I think both are super important. But thanks. =) You should see the reply I just got from one of the politicos. It is a form, referencing the Gateway Pipeline. Idiots.