A Return to my Roots
We sent our Marketing Coordinator, Ryan Rogers, to check out c̓əsnaʔəm, The City Before the City. Read on and experience his journey as he returns to his roots.
As a professional working for the Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC, it’s always a particularly special experience when I get to truly delve into my culture and explore the traditional ways of my people. So being of Musqueam descent, I was quite excited when given the opportunity recently to have a guided tour of the Musqueam Cultural Centre’s new award-winning exhibit, c̓əsnaʔəm, The City Before the City.
The tour started with a traditional welcome and private performance by the Coastal Wolf Pack, a traditional Musqueam dance group. Later, Alec – the leader of the troupe – showed me around the Musqueam traditional lands at the mouth of the Fraser River, before leading me back to the cultural centre. Along the way, Alex shared stories passed down through countless generations about Musqueam history, including how we became known as “The People of the River Grass.”
Once at the c̓əsnaʔəm exhibit, I got to see that ancient history up close and personal. The exhibit is a partnership between Musqueam First Nation, the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC, and the Museum of Vancouver (MOV). Each of the three locations will explore different aspects of the ancient village of c̓əsnaʔəm, founded about 5,000 years ago at what was then the mouth of the Fraser River and is today in the Marpole area.
The exhibit aims to encourage visitors to view Vancouver as a city built from and alongside a vibrant Musqueam community that still exists. At the Musqueam Cultural Centre location, I not only got to see the actual tools my ancestors used when building canoes or longhouses, but the sophistication of the Musqueam culture – past and present. It makes connections between the expertise of pre-contact knowledge-holders and contemporary professionals – just like me – which aptly completed the circle of my journey.