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Museum of North Vancouver to expand Indigenous programs thanks to $350K gift from BMO

'This support from BMO represents another positive step towards reconciliation between the Sḵwxw̱ ú7mesh, Səlílwətaɬ, and North Shore communities'
MONOVA Indigenous Cultural Programmer
MONOVA's Indigenous Cultural Programmer, Senaqwila Wyss from the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Nation, promoting an interactive online workshop about Coast Salish wool weaving. MONOVA has just received a gift of $350,000 from BMO Financial Group to expand its Indigenous programming.

Indigenous programming is being expanded at MONOVA: Museum of North Vancouver thanks to a generous lead gift of $350,000 from BMO Financial Group.  

The museum, which is set to open a 16,000-square-foot facility in Lower Lonsdale later this year, will now be able to boost its work with the Sḵwxw̱ú7mesh (Squamish) and Səlílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, which is focused on building meaningful relationships with the community and delivering Indigenous focused learning experiences.

Through this work, a main goal for MONOVA is to implement the museum-related recommendations in the final report of the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a release stated.

Chief Janice George and Carleen Thomas, who are co-chairs of MONOVA’s Indigenous voices advisory committee, said the support from BMO represents another positive step towards reconciliation between the Sḵwxw̱ú7mesh, Səlílwətaɬ, and North Shore communities.

“An important part of strengthening our cultures and Nations requires that the Sḵwxw̱ú7mesh and Səlílwətaɬ Peoples tell the story of our past, how it’s understood, described, documented, managed and communicated,” they said in a release, noting that the gift would help them continue this important work.

For Wesley A. Wenhardt, the museum director, the gift means MONOVA will be able to do more of what it does best.

“Sharing stories is at the heart of what we do at MONOVA,” he said.

“Support from organizations like BMO is crucial to allow MONOVA to deliver important public and educational programs in collaboration with our Sḵwxw̱ú7mesh and Səlílwətaɬ partners, whose ancestors have lived here for countless generations.”

So far, the BMO’s lead gift has supported the recruitment of cultural programmers, a practices adviser from the Sḵwxw̱ú7mesh Nation, and a Young Canada Works Indigenous curatorial assistant from the Səlílwətaɬ NaWon.

Further to this, MONOVA will use the gift to develop a number of programs, learning experiences, and workshops in partnership with Səlílwətaɬ and Sḵwxw̱ ú7mesh Nations. 

School programs will be created to provide students and teachers with unique knowledge about First Nations and public programs will offer introductions to knowledge, skills and language sharing, and other traditional cultural expressions.

On top of this, there will be storytelling and workshops by cultural interpreters, community advisers, and Elders as well as learning experiences, created by artists, that will provide opportunities for students and museum drop-in programs.  

Paul Seipp, BMO’s head of business banking for Western Canada, said BMO is committed to progress for Indigenous communities across three pillars that reflect their response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action for corporate Canada: employment, education and economic empowerment and the work is guided by an Indigenous advisory council.

“BMO is honoured to support MONOVA and the critical work being done to educate and inspire visitors with programs that share Indigenous perspectives through knowledge, stories, art and traditions of the Peoples of the North Shore,” he said.

MONOVA is operated by the North Vancouver Museum and Archives and is a shared partner agency of the City and District of North Vancouver.

Elisia Seeber is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.