Framing History

Interior of the Roundhouse: the entrance to the mezzanine level at the top of the stairs is framed by Indigenous artwork on the wall

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) artists in the Roundhouse

Artists: Jordan Gallie, Debra Sparrow, and Xuuyaah (1951-2019)
Curator: Kamala Todd

Framing History is about recognizing the deep histories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səlilwətaɬ people, and supporting artists from the Nations to speak to their relationships with these lands. This project reframes and expands the historical narrative of the Roundhouse into a larger context of place beyond the colonial history of the railroad and urbanization in Vancouver.

Framing History includes work by Debra Sparrow, a xʷməθkʷəy̓əm weaver, artist, and knowledge keeper who has been instrumental in the rejuvenation of Coast Salish weaving; Xuuyaah, a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh/Haida artist, cultural leader, and storyteller also connected to xʷməθkʷəy̓əm by lineage; and Jordan Gallie, an artist from səlilwətaɬ Nation, who works in many mediums. Each artist created works that reflect their deep relationship with the beautiful, culturally-significant waterfront lands where the Roundhouse stands.

Interior of the Roundhouse: Indigenous artwork is spray painted in red on grey, cement columns in the Roundhouse foyer which is about two storeys high and has red brick walls. At the back of the foyer, a person sits at a long table beside full height expansive windows.

In the entrance to the building, four columns are painted with distinct Coast Salish designs. Scháyilhen by Xuuyaah brings honour to the invaluable salmon who are intimately woven throughout the cultures, economies, governance systems of coastal First Nations communities. The Ripple Effect by Jordan Gallie reflects the deep importance of water in these territories, and the many ways that Salish cultural strength and vitality have always flowed on these lands and waters. Debra Sparrow’s designs, Framing History, weave many stories and teachings together to remind people of the endurance and innovation of her culture. Her designs help to welcome people at the information desk, and they bring a xʷməθkʷəy̓əm framing of the entrance to the Roundhouse historical gallery, which features a colonial timeline of the building and its history.

Interior of the Roundhouse: Indigenous artwork runs the length of the wall above the front desk above the words Information and Registration, beneath which two staff people converse at a computer.

All of the works flow together to remind visitors that they stand upon thousands of years of living history. They reflect the generosity and brilliance of xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səlilwətaɬ people whose ongoing relationships with their lands and waters inspires a much deeper, richer understanding of this place now called Vancouver.

In 2018, the Vancouver Park Board’s Arts, Culture and Engagement programmers worked with Métis-Cree curator Kamala Todd to reframe/expand the historical narrative of the Roundhouse into a larger context of place and histories. Kamala helped to create a project to reflect the strength, vitality and cultural continuity of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səlilwətaɬ Nations, on whose territories the Roundhouse is situated. Kamala was born and raised in the beautiful homelands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh speaking people, where she works as a filmmaker, community planner, adjunct professor, and curator towards decolonizing the city and honouring Indigenous peoples’ brilliance and knowledge.

Visit Framing History at the Roundhouse: the pillars in the Roundhouse foyer, above the front desk, and at the top of the stairs in the Great Hall.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How to Register

Registering for a program is as simple as:

  1. Create your Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation account.
  2. Click the ‘Register Now’ button in the Roundhouse Program you want to register for. This will take you to the program page on the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation website.
  3. Complete your registration, including payment.

Already have a Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation account?
Please login when prompted during program registration.