Culture at the Centre is an unprecedented exhibition from the Museum of Anthropology that offers insight into the important work Indigenous-run cultural centres and museums in British Columbia are doing to honour and support their culture, history and language. Five centres are showcased, representing six communities: Musqueam Cultural Education Centre, Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre, Heiltsuk Cultural Education Centre, Nisg̱a’a Museum, and Haida Gwaii Museum and Haida Heritage Centre at Kay Llnagaay.
The five cultural centres featured here share in their own words and images how they are actively engaged in representing their teachings, histories, and territories. They also reveal the diversity of indigenous cultures and languages, and the challenges, – and responsibilities, – of not only preserving but also strengthening cultural knowledge and cultural wealth for the future.
Each of these cultural centres provides its communities with access to their own stories, songs, and precious belongings, including ceremonial and artistic works. Each also provides connections to museums in other parts of the world where much of their collected material has been housed since the 1800’s.
First Nations cultural centres today are actively engaged with museums and other institutions to negotiate both access to and the return of this wealth for the benefit of their communities. They play an integral role in the culture, economy, and social life of their communities. For the public they also offer history and contemporary experiences from distinctly indigenous perspectives.
Here, belongings and cultural objects are linked to stories, teachings, and historic agreements, speaking to the broad range of activities and research each centre undertakes. The Centres assume diverse responsibilities. These include working with community members on language revitalization, art practices, land and title research, and repatriation of ancestors and cultural belongings from museums worldwide, as well as relevant local and global issues. They also welcome the public to learn, be inspired, and build new relationships.
This is our gift to each other, our fellow Canadians and the world. We Nisga’a are leaders. Our art and culture tie us to this place. We have stories of wonder, tragedy, and triumph to tell. Here, we will share them with the world.
Our teachings and practices are part of who we are, and they have persevered because of the wisdom and resilience of our ancestors, and our intrinsic connection to our lands and waters. Our teachings are expressed in our manners and customs, in our day-to-day interactions, and in the respect we show to others and to our work.
Musqueam Cultural Education Resource Centre
The Squamish and Lil’wat Nations have coexisted respectfully as neighbors since time immemorial. Our cultures are grounded in rich, ancient traditions, and continue to grow and evolve in a modern world. We have built the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre to share our cultural knowledge to inspire understanding and respect amongst all people
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
Culture has been defined as the total means by which a people provide material, emotional, and intellectual needs. It is a complex system which includes language, arts, customs and beliefs. Over thousands of years, our culture has continued to evolve through an ancient and continuing dialogue between our people, the Creator, and this environment.
Heiltsuk Cultural Education Centre
The Haida Gwaii Museum, showcasing Haida historical and contemporary art and an outstanding collection of objects, artifacts and scientific material culture, is committed to encouraging and facilitating creative dialogue and exploring a more holistic and critical view of the multiple and diverse ways of understanding Haida Gwaii, home to one of the most prominent Northwest Coast First Nations cultures and rich ecosystems in Canada.
Haida Gwaii Museum
The Haida Heritage Centre is a Haida Museum and Cultural Centre initiated by the people of Skidegate who had a vision to create a cultural centre and museum that tells the Haida story from the Haida point of view and our perspective. We wanted to have a place we could share with the world and show the world we are a living culture and a thriving people here and to communicate our relationship to Haida Gwaii and our rich history and where we want to go in the future. Haida Heritage Centre at Ḵay Llnagaay