In June 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) held its closing event in Ottawa and presented the executive summary of the findings including 94 “calls to action” to further reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and all Canadians.
At MONOVA, we truly believe that museums and archives have an active role to play in responding to these TRC calls to action. Calls to action 67 to 70 speak directly to the role that museums and archives play in achieving reconciliation.
Inspired by these strong recommendations, MONOVA’s Indigenous Voices Advisory Committee (IVAC) has been working for over 6 years to take an informal relationship with the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations and turn it into a more formal and structured one through the development and signing of similar Memoranda of Understandings (MOU), one with each nation.
On December 3, 2021, the day before the opening of the new Museum of North Vancouver in The Shipyards, the MONOVA team invited members of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Səl̓ílwətaɬ Nations including Khelsilem Tl’aḵwasik̓an, Chairperson at Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation, and Carleen Thomas, Elder from Səl̓ílwətaɬ Nation, for an MOU signing ceremony.
Goals of the Agreements
Signed under the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Səl̓ílwətaɬ Nations’ welcome circle at the new museum, the two MOUs outline a path to work together. This will focus on meaningful cultural sharing of knowledge that will help create a more informed community that live on the North Shore. The long-term goals are to improve communication between MONOVA and the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Səl̓ílwətaɬ Nations, and to understand, respect and follow appropriate protocols that will in turn lead to a strengthened relationship.
The purpose of the MOU agreement is as follows:
- Create spaces to share stories from the Nations
- Repatriation support
- Support for Coast Salish art
- Collaboration with the Archives
- Understanding and respect for protocols
- Support exhibit development
- Compensation for community involvement
- Support for language revitalization
- Create more opportunities for Indigenous programming
“When this new Museum was just a vision, and I was asked to be a part of it, I had the opportunity of collaborating with Sheryl Rivers, Chief Janice George and Carleen Thomas, Latash Maurice Nahanee and other Nation members to take a relationship that had been pretty informal, and help make it more meaningful and strategic” stated MONOVA’s IVAC member Terry Hood. “It took many years to develop these Memoranda of Understanding. They’re powerful documents, jointly created at a time of national and local reckoning with our history, and they represent just the beginning of what is possible.”
Fellow IVAC past co-chair Sandra White noted “The MOUs have already had an impact on what visitors to the new MONOVA facility will experience. Community stories, told by authentic voices, are now a significant part of the permanent exhibit gallery and soon the feature gallery. Newly hired Indigenous cultural programmers have produced a number of offerings and more is on the drawing board.”
A First for Museums in Coast Salish Territory
“This is the first of the public museums in our territory that we’ve developed a protocol agreement and MOU with,” noted Khelsilem Tl’aḵwasik̓an, Chairperson at Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation. “There are a lot of belongings that exist out there in the world somewhere that were either bought or taken at some point that we want to see returned. And it’s through these relationships with these public institutions that we’re able to work together to achieve repatriation, so those belongings can come home to our people.”
“We’ve worked really hard to weave our stories through the overall story of North Vancouver that’s happening here, on the walls of the new museum’s galleries, through these amazing belongings and artefacts,” added Carleen Thomas, Səl̓ílwətaɬ Nation elder. “It’s not complete, but it will be. We are working on that still.”
MONOVA was honoured to have its Indigenous partners join us for this event, and thank them for the support of this important community-building initiative. For video of the proceedings, watch the recap below.
“I have enjoyed working in collaboration with MONOVA. Everyone has worked diligently to ensure an authentic presentation and voice for the local First Nations, on whose unceded traditional territory stories and history have emerged. We have a proud history that goes back thousands of years, and First Nations have advocated for a fair and equitable existence. Thanks to the courage of the Museum, First Nations and Friends, we are finally in the same canoe and moving forward on the journey of reconciliation.” said Latash Maurice Nahanee, Policy and Practices Advisor for MONOVA.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report is a testament to the courage of each and every residential school survivor and family member who shared their story. It is our commitment, through a stronger relationship with the location host Nations, for MONOVA to do our part to meaningfully contribute to the reconciliation process.
Admission to the Museum of North Vancouver is free for those who self-identify as Indigenous.
Coast Salish programming is generously supported by BMO Financial Group.
Your donations to the Friends of the NVMA Society support thought-provoking programs and exhibits that promote our community values of inclusiveness, relevance, creativity, and engagement, and help MONOVA to bring stories to life for North Vancouver residents and visitors.
Donations are accepted through the Friends of the North Vancouver Museum & Archives Society, Registered Charity No. 89031 1772 RR0001.
We respectfully acknowledge that MONOVA: Museum and Archives of North Vancouver is located on the traditional lands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations, whose ancestors have lived here for countless generations. We are grateful for the opportunity to live, work and learn with them on unceded Coast Salish Territory.