Traditional Squamish Nation blessing of Xwu’nekw Canoe Shelter planned for Thursday

Xwunekw Canoe Shelter*Update: View photos from the blessing ceremony here

The public is invited to attend a traditional Squamish Nation ceremonial blessing of the Xwu’nekw Canoe Shelter (pronounced Whoo-Nay-Oak), hosted by the District of Squamish and the Squamish Nation. The event will take place on Thursday, July 21 between noon and 2 p.m. at the Canoe Shelter, located in Xwu’nekw Park on the Mamquam Blind Channel and Loggers Lane between Victoria and Main Streets.

Built in 2015 to house, restore and showcase historical First Nations canoes, the Xwu’nekw Canoe Shelter is housed on a traditional Squamish Nation village site where the Skwxwú7mesh people and visitors from other First Nations beached their canoes. The blessing ceremony presents an important opportunity to re-introduce the name and location of Xwu’nekw, the original Squamish Nation village site.

"This project is a perfect example of how a district can collaborate with First Nations on their traditional territory and I am extremely proud of the District of Squamish for agreeing to place the canoe shed in this location and taking part as "the family" in the traditional ceremony,” says Josh Joseph, Skwetsi7meltxw, Squamish Nation Councillor. “The ceremony will involve blessing the canoe shelter and most importantly involve re-introducing the village name Xwu'nekw. I visualize the canoe shelter being utilized as a place of education so people can visit and learn our traditions surrounding the sacredness of our canoes. This is a great opportunity to build upon our partnership with the District of Squamish and provides a stepping stone on our journey towards reconciliation."

“The canoe shelter represents a place for collaboration and shared learning between the Squamish Nation and the Squamish community, and we very much look forward to seeing how this can be built on, beginning with the blessing ceremony,” says District of Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman. “This ceremony offers us a truly wonderful opportunity to increase our understanding of Squamish Nation culture, and we are honoured that the Nation is taking us through this traditional journey.”

This project, made possible thanks to a Canadian Heritage Legacy Fund grant designed to build communities through arts and heritage, was a ‘made-in-Squamish-by-Squamish’ project. The project was initiated by the Downtown Squamish Business Improvement Association to establish a historical attraction that would help bring visitors and locals alike to the downtown area, and build a stronger partnership with First Nations community members.

The District wishes to extend appreciation to the many local contractors whose generous contributions helped make the striking post-and-beam structure a reality:  AJ Forest Products; BBR Contracting; BC Timberframe; Cardinal Concrete; Carmanah Technologies Corporation; Coast Valley Contracting; Corporate Electric; Metro Testing; PBX Engineering; T&S Sheet Metal.

July 20, 2016

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