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Canoe Cultures

Building a Legacy

 On view June 17 to August 2, 2021


The Vancouver Maritime Museum is excited to celebrate with local Nations, Indigenous community members, artists, canoe carvers, paddlers, elders, youth and with our visitors the rich history and thriving presence of Canoe Culture on the West Coast.

Indigenous communities have travelled the highways (waterways) of their ancestors since time immemorial, forming strong relationships with the lands and waters. The canoe is a vital element to coastal Indigenous life and demonstrates an ongoing presence and use of unceded territories by local Nations.

We are excited to have the opportunity to participate in and showcase a powerful new project which promotes and supports canoe pulling by creating new canoes through an apprenticeship program. The program is called Canoe Cultures and is being led by seventh-generation canoe builder Mike Billy Sr., who has the hereditary Squamish name Lemxacha Siyam. We are grateful to witness the generosity of Master Carver Lemxacha Siyam and his family.

This project provides valuable skills and knowledge to youth and young adults through the construction of new canoes which are then gifted for local communities to use. The Canoe Cultures program has brought new canoes to Squamish, has restored a 70-year-old canoe for Musqueam and is currently creating new vessels for Tsleil-Waututh.

The display features early images of canoe racing on the west coast and highlights the recent work done through the Canoe Cultures program. We hope you will join us to celebrate this beautiful project and the importance of the War Canoe which brings forward many gifts.

A special thanks to Ann Phelps for her passion and hard work bringing this project and exhibition together.

This display will be followed up with a comprehensive exhibition featuring Canoe Cultures that will launch September 16, 2021.


canoe being built
man sitting beside a recently built canoe
two men working on a canoe
man working on a canoe
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