By Cathy Jenkins; Project Manager, Campus Renewal
In late September, Cheakamus Centre was treated to a special celebration with friends from the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), Aboriginal Housing Management Association, and British Columbia Institute of Technology’s School of Construction and the Environment.
The celebration marks the conclusion of Building a Greener Future Together, a pilot project that saw the transformation of Cabin #4 into a model for energy efficiency, while empowering and creating green career pathways for Indigenous women and 2SLGBTTQQIA+ people.
Coast Salish Artist Sinámkin (Jody Broomfield) used the original cedar cabin doors as his canvas. “These doors honour and uphold our two-spirited friends and relatives,” explained Sinámkin. “I colour blended all the colours of the 2SLGBTQ+ flag as the background, with a reflection of the spirit of the eagle, which represents being proud of who you are and letting your spirit soar. At the top and bottom are the watchful eyes of the Ancestors."
The morning of the ceremony, two cedar boughs and water from a nearby stream were gathered. As part of the ceremony, the doors and artist were brushed by cedar boughs that had been dipped in the stream water, while a traditional song was performed. Sinámkin shared that this protocol ceremony work gives back the part of himself he had put into the creation of the artwork, allowing him to move on to other creations.
The speaker for the ceremony was Sempúlyan, who identifies as a proud two-spirit person. The ceremony included a lesson on the name Cheakamus, an Anglicization of Chʼiyáḵmesh ("people of the fish weir") the original village site. Aaron Williams led the traditional drumming and singing.
In accordance with Coast Salish protocol governing the ceremony, blankets and headbands were wrapped to cover the hearts and minds of the participants. Sempúlyan called four witnesses from those in attendance to be responsible for holding and sharing knowledge about the ceremony moving forward. These witnesses were invited to share reflections on what they heard.
The Cabin #4 doors are a celebration of the many ways in which diversity is expressed throughout the North Vancouver School District. They are a beautiful symbol of the welcoming doors at Cheakamus Centre, where staff strive to ensure all students, staff and visitors feel safe, accepted, included and respected.
The artful doors were generously funded through the Grand Challenges Canada Indigenous Innovation Initiative’s Gender Equality and BC Multiculturalism Grant programs.
We need your help! Fundraising is underway for an energy retrofit to Cabin #3 that will provide in-demand skills training for local Indigenous youth. Contact Cathy Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
We would like to thank the Skwxwú7mesh Nation, upon whose unceded traditional territory Cheakamus Centre resides. We value the opportunity to welcome others to learn, gather and share in nature on this traditional territory. The land Cheakamus Centre is situated on has always been a place of learning for the Chʼiyáḵmesh people, who for millennia have passed on their culture, history, and traditions from one generation to the next on this site.