The Royal BC Museum’s latest exhibit began with a canoe landing in Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
Sacred Journey is RBCM’s newest exhibit which took seven years to produce. It examines the vital link that canoes have to Indigenous groups across the Pacific Northwest.
“Our people have been on this coast for millennia, for thousands of years, and are dependent on the ocean for sustenance,” said Hereditary Chief Frank Brown of Heiltsuk Nation.
As part of the ceremony, the groups travelled by canoe to the harbour where they were granted permission to come ashore. A march to the museum shortly followed, where the exhibit was given a ceremonial blessing.
Brown, who is also a co-curator of the exhibit, says it highlights how canoe culture was lost due to colonialism and later reemerged among Indigenous Peoples. Sacred Journey features dozens of interviews and educational videos, providing a perspective from First Nations.
“When we bring back our singing, dancing, the canoe culture, and all these different things it brings healing. It brings self-identity,” said Michelle Robinson, who is featured in the exhibit.
Alongside the exhibit, a collection of photographs will be showcasing Bákvḷá, a term in Heiltsuk language that conveys the meaning of “collecting and gathering food for the winter season.”
The photo series is presented by Margaret Brown, an elder and a survivor of a residential school. She is one of the few remaining people who can speak the Heiltsuk language.
The exhibit has a price tag of around $300,000 and was first hosted at the Campbell River Museum, followed by Science World in Vancouver. The public can visit the exhibit for free starting May 5 through Oct 29.
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