21 Dec Winter solstice celebrated at the SLCC: Opening day of the UNCEDED Photography Exhibit and Spo7ez Winter Feast
The arrival of cold temperatures and much-welcomed snow help us mark the winter solstice, a day of importance and celebration among Indigenous people. The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre honoured the seasonal change with two special events: the official opening of UNCEDED: S7ULH TEMÍXW / TI TMICWKÁLHA / OUR LAND – A Photographic Journey into Belonging followed by the evening Spo7ez Winter Feast.
The SLCC’s newest exhibit was co-curated by Mixalhítsa7 Alison Pascal (Lil’wat Nation) and Tsawaysia Dominique Nahanee (Squamish Nation) and features the photography of Whistler artist Logan Swayze.
Visitors are invited to view Nation members through an intimate lens and see how regalia, elders, youth, and chieftainship interact with the land from K’emk’emeláy (Vancouver) to Ts’zil (Mount Currie) mountain. The exhibit is a reminder that despite the surrounding landscapes of urban cities and towns, we are on Indigenous territories that have been thriving for millennia through environmental stewardship.
The concept was initiated in the spring of 2022 and began by looking at the meaning of “unceded” from a number of perspectives. Mixalhítsa7 and Tsawaysia started by making a wishlist of what stories they wished to tell from each Nation, and then reviewed what themes still needed to be examined. Through this collaborative effort, they maintain a balance between the two Nations and represent their shared territory.
The theme of balance is echoed in the representation of the relationship with the land. “In the exhibit, we talk about stewardship of the land and the role Indigenous people play in protecting animals and resources we share the territory with,” says Mixalhítsa7. “I wanted this exhibit to reflect two things: a reminder of our presence here since time immemorial, and a journey towards understanding that for Indigenous People, the land doesn’t belong to us, we belong to the land,” Mixalhítsa7 stated earlier in a press release.
Mixalhítsa7 also notes that there is a difference in how non-Indigenous people view their relationship to land as a matter of ownership. UNCEDED explores this differing perspective while calling in all community members to view themselves as part of an ecosystem that relies on a symbiotic interconnectedness – take care of the land, and in turn, be taken care of.
Visitors are encouraged to examine their relationship with the land, what it means to reside on Indigenous territory, and to dive deeper into understanding Indigenous cultures and practices. There is also an opportunity to empathize with the frustrations of navigating through government relationships and policies that continue to have a damaging effect on Indigenous communities and the land we all share.
UNCEDED: S7ULH TEMÍXW / TI TMICWKÁLHA / OUR LAND – A Photographic Journey into Belonging runs from December 21, 2022, through May 21, 2023.
Access to the Gallery 3 exhibition continues throughout the season and is included in general admission tickets, where guests can also join a guided What We Treasure tour through the Museum’s Great Hall and Gallery 1 – on the hour with an SLCC Ambassador.
Visit: slcc.ca/unceded to see photos from the exhibition opening and to learn more about the exhibit
Plan your visit to see the exhibit at slcc.ca/visit
Story by Jessica Brown of Root Creative.