MONOVA: MUSEUM OF NORTH VANCOUVER, 115 West Esplanade, North Vancouver BC – Opening soon
by Latash Maurice Nahanee
Stories are a collective memory of a place and time. The new Museum of North Vancouver (MONOVA) is filled with stories of our past. It is the story that starts with an ancient people who with intelligence used an abundant rain forest, moving on to a landscape filled with many peoples sharing a vibrant modern metropolis.
MONOVA is located on the unceded lands of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations. A fitting welcome to museum visitors is a cedar sculpture of Sch’ich’iyúy (the Two Sisters) by Skwxwú7mesh carver Wade Baker, winner of a public art competition. “The red cedar Sch’ich’iyúy panel is based on the ancient Skwxwú7mesh Sisters Mountain Transformer legend,” noted Baker. These twin peaks are now known as the Lions. “The twins were raised from childhood to be leaders for their people. They asked their father, the Siyam’, the Chief, to bring peace to the warring tribes along the coast. Fires were lit all along the coast to signal a great welcoming feast to bring peace. For their e orts, the twins were immortalized in the mountain peaks you see today that watch over us.” This is one example of place names family stories. The landscape you see all around us is a book to the Coast Salish people.
MONOVA is home to restored electric Streetcar 153, exhibitions of community history, public and education programs, and spaces to celebrate diversity and share the stories of the North Shore. Curator Barbara Hilden explains, “Belongings and artifacts connect us to our history and help inform our future. They are tangible representations of stories, and we take our obligations to these stories and the people they represent very seriously. We look forward to sharing stories and inspiring generations to come.”
Notes museum director Wesley Wenhardt: “The year 2020 was challenging for many of us, and we’re excited to be offering some much-needed good news. Now more than ever, museums are where communities discover themselves and grow strong and resilient.”