Vancouver History – First Nations

One of the important items to do when you are acquainting yourself with a new city is to learn about its history and understand its trials.

Vancouver harbor has such natural abundance, as colder waters always do, and natural protection, that First Nations peoples have called the area home for over 3,000 years!

Even though we think of these waters as “cold”, they are really “warm” currents, in their latitude, and serve to moderate the climate to the most consistently mild weather in Canada. So, it was no wonder that the tribes settled here.

An aboriginal settlement called Xwméthkwyiem, “Musqueam,” (from masqui, “an edible grass that grows in the sea”), near the mouth of the Fraser River, was the first village.

At the time of first European contact in the late 18th century, the Musqueam and Squamish peoples had villages all around the harbor-edge and inland areas of present-day Vancouver. The Tsleil-Waututh, ancestors of today’s Burrard Band in North Vancouver, also lived here.

All of these bands still have living descendants in Vancouver today, although the land set aside for the tribes is embarrassingly miniscule — and evidently unacceptable to them — as only one tribal Treaty has been concluded (this year, with the Tsawwassen), after years of trying! None of the tribes ever ceded their traditional lands, so “compensation” and acceptable amounts of tribal lands must be properly discussed.

Each of these tribes are Coast Salish First Nations, sharing cultural and language traits with people in the Fraser Valley and Northern Washington state in the United States of America.

Maybe all the words about “inclusivity” spewed on the BC government pages will find new meaning and impetus to reach fair and equitable conclusions with the First Nations, in the true Olympic Spirit!

Don’t be surprised to see some of the same activism, as what happened about human rights in the Beijing Summer Olympics, as the First Nations (and maybe other groups) try to have a speaking-platform — not just a photo-op presence — at the Vancouver Games.

Meanwhile, enjoy making contact with the First Nations peoples at every opportunity during your visit. That’s what I always do when I travel, and it’s very enlightening to hear their “side”. Yes, very enlightening indeed.

You can see an interactive map of the First Nations’ original lands within Vancouver, at: Vancouver Useful Links Archive TravelVacationReview

©2009 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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