Our People, Our Places


Kids’ Quick Look:

  1. Look at the pictures and consider the questions.
  2. Read Background Information sections to learn more.

Dive Deeper:

  1. Use the Brainstorm Worksheet to explore what you already know about Indigenous peoples.
  2. Choose one historic photograph below and complete the Analyzing Photographs Worksheet. Repeat for each photograph.
  3. Finally, use the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) People Worksheet to summarize your results.

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw is the Indigenous name for the English term Squamish Nation.


Group of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh men at Eslha7án̓ (Mission Reserve), with newly-made canoe, circa 1912.
NVMA 26-3-5

Image 1: Group of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Men


  • How many tools can you find in this picture and what might these have been used for?
  • Why was this picture taken? Was this an important event?
  • Do Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people today use canoes? If so, for what purpose?

Background Information:
This image shows Dan Kí7ḵes, ‘Old’ Julian, Willie Baker, and Steven Antone making a new dugout canoe. Canoeing was important to First Nations peoples. Canoes linked villages and provided access to local resources such as berry patches, bulrushes and clam-digging sites. These carvers are following the long-standing tradition of canoe making. Today, racing canoes are widely used in competitions.

St. Paul’s Catholic Church, 1920. NVMA 3345

Image 2: St. Paul’s Church


  • What events might have been held in this building?
  • Do you know if this church is still used today? What might the existence of a church say about the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) community?
  • What evidence of modern conveniences can you see?

Background Information:
This church is located on the north side of Burrard Inlet at Eslha7án̓ (the Squamish Nation Mission Reserve). It was founded in 1884 and is the oldest Catholic Church in the Vancouver region. It originally had only one spire, but a second spire was added when the Church was re-dedicated, as St. Paul’s Catholic Church, in 1909.

St. Paul’s Church plays a significant role in the lives of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh stelmexw (Squamish people) on the North Shore. As early as 1863, Oblate Fathers set-up a missionary reserve on the north shore of the Burrard Inlet. Under the leadership of Father Fouquet and Chief Snat, a mission church was first built there in 1868. (Lascelles, Thomas A. Mission on the Inlet, 1984).

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Chief Joe Capilano and delegation of Coast Salish leaders on North Vancouver ferry wharf, May 1908. Elliot and Baglow photo. NVMA 2575

Image 3 : Delegation of Salish Leaders


  • How many blankets can you see? How many head dresses? How many European style hats?
  • Why do you think the photographer took this photo?

Background Information:
In August 1906, Sahp-luk (Chief Joe Capilano) and other Coast Salish leaders went to England to petition King Edward VII about Indigenous land rights and the needs of BC’s First Nations communities. Two years later, in 1908, a second, larger delegation (shown here) went to Ottawa to speak with Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Sḵwx̱wú7mesh delegates wore traditional woven blankets for this important event.

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Chief Joe Capilano is fifth from left (with robe over his arm). William Nahanee, Sr. is at the far right. The photo was taken in May 1908 on North Vancouver’s ferry wharf which was at the foot of Lonsdale Avenue.

Squamish Indian Band Orchestra, 1928. NVMA 4787

Image 4: Squamish Indian Band Orchestra*


  • Is this a brass band? How do you know?
  • Are these traditional Indigenous instruments?
  • Why are most of the musicians wearing non-Squamish headdresses? Find out more.

Background Information:
This photo, taken in front of the stands at Mahon Park (North Vancouver), shares an early view of the next generation of leadership. Along with men who were, or would become, political representatives [Chief Mathias, Simon Baker, Tim Moody, and Moses Joseph] are the young men who became part of the workforce in the lumber industry, waterfront and fisheries.

* Official name of the orchestra. Use of the word “Indian” is no longer considered culturally appropriate.

W’axayus, a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Welcome Figure, circa 1920. NVMA 1310

Image 5: Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Welcome Figure


  • What is this?
  • Where can we see Skwxwú7mesh carvings today?
  • What does this carving represent?

Background Information:
The Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, unlike many Northwest Coast Indigenous Peoples, traditionally did not carve totem poles. Historically, their large carvings included house and mortuary posts. Today though there are many artists carving monumental crests and story poles. Some are called welcome poles or figures.

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Elders note that a welcome figure, called W’axayus, once stood on the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh reserve at Pukwayusem, near Brackendale (at the junction of the Squamish and Cheakamus Rivers). It welcomed the annual salmon run.

Commemorating Amalgamation, 1923. Photograph taken outside the Department of Indian Affairs building. NVMA 4835

Image 6: Commemorating Amalgamation


  • What tells us that this is an important occasion?
  • Why was this picture taken?
  • What is amalgamation?

Background Information:
The Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) has existed and thrived within its traditional territory since time immemorial. In July 1923, 16 villages joined together to form the Squamish Band. This group photo marks the federal government’s recognition of that event and highlights the close family ties of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh stelmexw (Squamish people) – who can trace their ancestry to one or more of these Chiefs and leaders.

Ceremony celebrating the erection of a totem pole at Cates Wharf, 1948.
North Shore Graphic Arts photo. NVMA 953

Image 7: Totem Pole at Cate’s Wharf


  • Describe what the people in this photograph are doing.
  • What is ‘regalia’? Why is it important? Read more about regalia.
  • Do you recognize this totem pole? Have you seen it yourself?
  • Can you identify any of the carved figures?

Background Information:
This photo captures a ceremony performed to celebrate the raising of a totem pole on Cates Wharf in October, 1948. The pole is still there and can be seen from the Lonsdale Quay market. The Elder wearing a shawl is Chief Mathias Joe, son of Chief Joe Capilano. The paddle jackets worn are a type of regalia that is uniquely “Salish”. Variations continue to be worn now at all community celebrations as it honours Sḵwx̱wú7mesh past and present.

Left to right: Chief Isaac Jacobs, Eileen Joe, Chief August Jack Khatsahlano, Chief Mathias Joe and the carver of the pole, Tommy Moses.

Constructing a canoe, Harry Moody and Charlie Cates, circa 1950s. NVMA 2219

Image 8: Constructing a Canoe


  • What about the shape of this canoe tells us it’s a racing canoe?
  • Is the canoe finished?
  • Why do you think it was named “Capilano Warrior”?

Background Information:
This photo was taken during the construction of the canoe “Capilano Warrior” in the 1950s. Charlie Cates (Captain Charles Cates, Jr. Mayor of North Vancouver from 1953 to 1957) is seen here with master canoe builder, Harry Moody. He worked with and mentored canoe families amongst the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw. Respected by the Indigenous communities, Charlie Cates spoke the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim (Squamish language) and fostered positive relationships between Indigenous people and settlers.

“Wigwams”, Capilano Reserve, c.1958. NVMA 3973

Image 9: “Wigwams,” Capilano Reserve


  • What structures do you recognize in this photograph?
  • Do you see any traditional First Nations activities or regalia? Do you see non-traditional activities?
  • Why do you think this picture was taken? Is this a traditional First Nations event or a modern event? How do you know?
  • Would you like to have attended this event?

Background Information:
This photo captures an annual that began in the late 1940s and featured Plains Indigenous people gathering to share their ‘powwow’ traditions. This celebration took place in 1958 at Capilano (North Vancouver). The title of the image, ‘Wigwams at Capilano Reserve’ incorrectly notes the tipis as ‘wigwams’ and illustrates how settlers at times, misused native words. Both tipis and wigwams are types of housing but are built differently.

Participants at these events included racing canoe groups, school bands, and dance troupes. These gatherings were family events that marked the end of the school year, when the children returned from residential schools.

Eva May Nahanee with examples of her basketry work and bundles of cedar roots, circa 1970s. NVMA 2506

Image 10: Eva Nahanee with Baskets


  • What is the in the photo woman doing ?
  • Do the baskets have the same design?
  • Would the baskets be used for the same purpose?
  • Do you think the maker would have used the baskets herself or might she have sold them?

Background Information:
All local Indigenous girls were taught to make baskets from a very early age. Basketry and weaving was originally used to create storage containers and ceremonial objects and to transport items. In the 20th century, these skills were used instead to make baskets and items for trade. This significant change helped Indigenous peoples to survive economically.

Eva Nahanee represents a more recent generation of basket makers. She carried on the skills she learned as a young woman and taught her children as well. She is shown here with samples of old baskets she emulated, as well as some of her own work. The large basket contains bundles of processed roots which she used to make her own baskets.

Floyd Joseph and High Status Plaque carved for North Vancouver City Hall, circa 1975. Fred Douglas photo. NVMA 9282

Image 11: Floyd Joseph with Carved Plaque


  • What about Chief Floyd Joseph clothing tells us this photo was taken in the 1970’s?
  • How might Floyd Joseph have felt about having his carving in the Civic Centre?
  • Where else can you see Indigenous art on the North Shore?

Background Information:
This image shows Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) artist Floyd Joseph and his carving “Creation of the Elements and the Rebirth” displayed in the Mayor’s office in the new Civic Centre, around 1975. Today he is Chief Floyd Joseph, and is a well-known artist. Our region has become known for its use of Northwest Coast Indigenous designs in public art.

St. Paul’s 100th Anniversary and Restoration Celebrations, 24 June 1984. Mary Lafreniere photo. NVMA 6239

Image 12: St. Paul’s Anniversary and Restoration


  • Why do we think this might be an important occasion?
  • Can you identify different types of regalia that are used at important ceremonies?
  • Where was this picture taken? What kind of building might this be?

Background Information:
These photos were taken at the One Hundredth Anniversary of St. Paul’s Catholic Church on the Eslha7án̓ (the Squamish Nation Mission Reserve)  in 1984.

It shows another generation of parents and community activists, including Percy Paul, at the podium wearing a paddle shirt, Jimmy Nahanee, and Aunty Yvonne Joseph. This committee raised funds inside and outside of the Nation to restore the Church, which gained Historic Site status through the efforts of the congregation at this time.