We have been working hard over the last few years to establish relationships with the Squamish and Sechelt Nations so they can interpret their own histories here at the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives. Back in the fall of 2011, we launched our newly developed collaborative exhibit Kwekwinmut Pieces of the Past. One half of the first floor has been dedicated to the exhibit which features over 70 Squamish stone artifacts , large-scale archival images, maps, interpretive text panels, and an innovative soundscape piece that includes the Squamish Origin legend. The exhibit was groundbreaking for us in that it marked the beginning of a collaborative relationship with the Squamish Nation based on principles of co-management.
We are now in the midst of making arrangements with the Squamish Lilâwat Cultural Centre in Whistler to do a year-long exhibit exchange. They will be borrowing our stone artifacts in exchange for pieces from their outgoing exhibit entitled Sneux/uwilth Tlaoz The Craft and Culture of Squamish Canoe Building. This exhibit showcases canoe building and fishing activities and is a celebration of Squamish and Lilâwat waterways and culture that has sustained their people for generations.
The key piece from this exhibit is a dugout canoe called Stelkaya, or Striking Wolf. It was carved by Sessiyam (Ray Natraoro) a member of the Wolf clan. A modern master of the ancient Squamish craft, Sessiyam carved this vessel from a single piece of ancient red cedar as a wedding gift for his wife, Noelle. Carved over a period of two months in 2009, this nexws cha7chu, or hunting canoe, measures 8.5 meters (28 feet) long, 138 centimeters (54.5 inches) across the beam, and weighs approximately 227 kilograms (500 lbs.). It has traveled throughout the Salish Sea and taken part in two Tribal Canoe Journeys. As this goes to press, we are still working out the logistics of transporting and installing the canoe. It really is stunning and I am crossing my fingers that everything will fall into place! The plan is to have the exhibit ready for launch by June at the latest so come soon if you want to catch the last few weeks of our current exhibit and stay tuned for the launch of the canoe exhibit this June.
I am also pleased to announce that we were successful in our application for the 2013 BC History Digitization Program and can now complete Phase II of our Newspaper Digitization Project. Adding to our online database of 37 years of Coast News newspapers, we plan to complete the Coast News collection (77-82, 88, 90-95) and include the entire run of the Peninsula Times (January 1963 to June 1980). We are aiming to have this second phase available online by November. We have received extremely positive community response to our project and are excited to build upon this success with the second phase. Visit sunshinecoastmuseum.ca to access this wealth of free information.