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To Be Seen, To Be Heard

First Nations in Public Spaces, 1900–1965

Look Closer

To Be Seen, To Be Heard

First Nations in Public Spaces, 1900–1965

Look Closer

To Be Seen, To Be Heard

First Nations in Public Spaces, 1900–1965

Dates

On now

This multimedia exhibition of large-scale archival photographs and film explores how, during the period of potlatch prohibition and other forms of erasure in Canada, First Nations people of British Columbia represented themselves as Indigenous in urban public spaces—at parades, protests, royal visits, tourist markets, civic jubilees and intertribal gatherings.

Looking back through a rich trove of archival material reveals the diverse ways that First Nations worked to be seen and heard, striving to have their rights recognized—rights to their lands, their laws and their future.

In this exhibition, large-scale projections of historical photographs and film are accompanied by audio commentaries by Indigenous community members who reflect on the images from their perspectives today. Their words help to illuminate an often-neglected backstory of British Columbia’s modern history, in which First Nations people ensured they were seen and heard at a wide range of public events. First Nations objects, belongings and artworks made and used during the era are displayed facing the archival projections, reconnecting these items—most now part of the collection at MOA—to their place in a modern history from which they are often separated.

As visitors to the exhibition consider the subjects of these historical images, the First Nations people in these images look back through the camera lens at the viewers—with the intent they envisioned for their futures.

Curators: Dr. Marcia Crosby (Ts’msyen/Haida) and Karen Duffek (MOA Curator, Contemporary Visual Arts + Pacific Northwest)


Photos credits (L-R): 1) Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Kwakwaka’wakw leaders and community members on their float in the Diamond Jubilee Parade, Vancouver, 1946. Photographer unrecorded. Photo courtesy of City of Vancouver Archives [371-34].  2) Mathias Joe (Squamish) with Texan Maarice Agley, 1947. Photographer unrecorded. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Public Library, Special Collections [VPL 80806]. 3) Ellen Neel (Kwakwaka‘wakw) and Maria Tallchief (Osage), 1948. Photographer unrecorded. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Public Library, Special Collections [VPL 62660]. 4) Queen Elizabeth II is presented with Cowichan sweaters, at Nanaimo or Duncan, 1959. Photographer unrecorded. Photo courtesy of BC Archives [g-03198_1]. 5) Squamish Reserve Indian Band, 1921. Photographer unrecorded. Photo courtesy of MONOVA: Museum & Archives of North Vancouver [4834].