Happy Solstice all! The longest day of the year was marked by grey skies and occasional sprinkling of rain. Today is also National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada with several George Pearson Centre (GPC) residents attending celebrations at the Musqueam reserve, returning aglow. Many nations are represented by the people who live at GPC. We work to reflect on our shared history and towards reconciliation.
The land we are on today has long been home to the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people. Just down the hill is the site of the former Musqueam winter village c̓əsnaʔəm which existed long before Vancouver was founded, most active 4000 to 1500 years ago. The main winter village moved a few times over the millenia with the changing river delta and mouth of the Stó꞉lō (Fraser River).
c̓əsnaʔəm, about 4 1/2 acres in area, was referred to as the Great Marpole Midden by settlers and was mined and disturbed by archeologists for decades. In 1933, c̓əsnaʔəm was designated a National Historic Site of Canada. A cairn and plaque in Marpole park at 72nd Ave and Cartier Street acknowledes the nearby historic village.
In 2011, permits were issued to a developer for part of c̓əsnaʔəm without permission of the Musqueam nation. Band members and supporters sought to protect it and protested the removal of intact remains of their ancestors. It was not an easy fight but in fall of 2012 a deal was reached that retained the site as historic and the burial grounds as sacred. The Musqueam nation has continued to regain some of these lands – read more here.
Farmers on 57th strives to be stewards of the land and to honour the people who have nurtured these lands for thousands of years. There are native plants on site like the salmonberry which grew up through a blackberry bramble and for which volunteers cleared space to nurture growth. We aim to be inclusive and trauma-informed and build relationships with the community around us. Farmers on 57th recently hosted a “Building Bridges: Through Understanding the Village” workshop for staff and volunteers to continue to build a culturally safe space for all that find themselves seeking a connection to land, soil and plants.
Today was our weekly Garden Club – a Farmers on 57th-led gardening program with the folks who live in the long term care facility on-site. Residents of GPC braved the cool drizzle to check on their plants and plant some more. We pulled back mulch and observed ant eggs that looked like peach coloured tic tacs. Being in this green space is a transformative experience, healing, and we are grateful for the opportunity.