• <p>Title Wall &amp; Welcome Pole in 3 languages; Squamish, Halkomelen  (Tsleil Waututh Nation) and English.</p>
  • <p>Drumming at the Opening Reception</p>


x̱ é chnexw · syets · sx̱ wex̱ wiy̓ á m̓

· syǝθ · sx̌ʷəy̓em̓

memory · history · story

selected works from the AFK collection

Welcome to the Gordon Smith Gallery located on the traditional territories of the Squamish and Tsleil Waututh Nations.

The exhibit Memory History Story provides students, educators and visitors with a resource to look at the way we, as individuals and as larger communities, learn. Recently, the B.C. Ministry of Education developed new curriculum with a focus to indigenize all areas of learning. This change means not only adding and altering content in the various subject areas but also the methods used to teach these subjects.

In the process of curating this exhibit, many questions and emotions were integral to the decisions of how to organize and present these works and ideas. As curators, we settled on the understanding that art serves as a medium to record emotions, memories, stories and histories. Using the First Peoples Principles of Learning, works have been grouped into areas that reflect the following:

  • Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits and the ancestors.
  • Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential and relational (focused on connectedness,on reciprocal relationships and a sense of place).
  • Learning is embedded in memory, history and story.
  • Learning requires exploration of one’s identity.

Text for this exhibition is a selection of key words taken from the First Peoples Principals of Learning, translations of this text were provided by the Squamish and Tsleil Waututh Nations. Blank spaces in thetext were purposefully left, to show the loss and near extinction of the Halkomelen language (Tsleil Waututh Nation).

The art pieces exhibited provide a record of these artists’ memories, their histories, and most importantly the story of their experiences. They depict a
wide array of experience; relocation, being forced to settle in a specific location, residential schools, loss of family and culture, connection to spirits and the land, discovering and reviving cultures. As viewers we are challenged to interpret, research, and question our understanding of these works and of the events that have influenced these artists’ lives.

The exhibition highlights three main sections:

  1. The front of the gallery celebrates Indigenous materials and processes. The cedar tree plays an integral role in the spiritual beliefs and the ceremonial life of coastal First Nations. Other materials presented are Caribou and horsehair, used in the masks and the needle work.
  2. The main section of the gallery portrays the First Peoples Principals of Learning by grouping works into the four areas of
  3. The Process Gallery honours the work of Kenojuak Ashevak and other Inuit artists.

As students and the public visit this exhibit, we hope as educators and curators, that the dialogue about the historical and current issues of Indian Residential Schools in Canada and the long work of reconciliation that is in Canada’s future expands for these visitors.

Mentors of ours have asked us as educators to “go forward with courage,” this has been a tremendous support for our work to put together this exhibition. We would like to add to this our voices and say – go forward with compassion.

Co-curated by Veis Dokhani and Daylen Luchsinger

We would like to thank the Coast Salish people, specifically the Squamish Nation and Tsleil Waututh Nation, whose traditional territory North Vancouver School District resides on. We value the opportunity to learn, live and share educational experiences on this traditional territory.