I live for family weekends. Now that Chayton is walking its the perfect time to explore our beautiful city and watch as he discovers the world around him.
This weekend we took part in the annual Winter Wander weekend, where all five of the local museums in Vanier Park are available to the public for only $5 admission. It was a great opportunity to learn some of the local history of our city and how the past has shaped who we are today.
We boarded the RCMP St. Roch at the Maritime Museum, the first ship to completely circumnavigate North America and successfully sailed the Northwest Passage in 1940 and again in 1944.
At the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, we touched the moon, as the centre is now home to one of only five pieces of moon rock that now live here on earth.
But my favourite exhibits of the day were found at the Museum of Vancouver. From Vancouver’s ancient history and the village of c̓əsnaʔəm to predictions on the future of Vancouver with its current housing crisis and future relationship with the rising tides, there was so much for this history nerd to soak in.
While walking through the MOV timeline, two narratives became clear: Vancouver’s diverse community has a dark history of racist tension and the fight for women to achieve gender equality was prevalent in the past and still continues today.
As a first generation Canadian on my dad’s side, we didn’t face the same level of racism that other Chinese-Canadians have experienced in the past. Yet for my husband’s family, who immigrated to Canada from Japan in the 1800s, certain time periods, like the Japanese Internment of WWII, hold a much more personal stab of racism. Even though his family had been Canadian citizens, born of this country for generations, Chris’ grandmother and great aunts were sent to live in the harsh winter climates of the remote internment camps with all their material possessions confiscated and sold…even while the male members of their family had already proven their loyalty to this country by fighting for Canada and against the homeland of their ancestry.
In the c̓əsnaʔəm exhibit we walked through a painful reminder of how Vancouver is built upon the destruction of the Musqueam people and currently stands on unceded territorial land. I remember standing at the edge of this ancient burial site while my friends protected their ancestors from inhumane destruction, a clash of culture taking place only four years ago in 2012.
Yet of all the artifacts houses in the museum, there was one tiny, fragile leaf that impacted my heart above all else.
At first glance there isn’t much too it and I watched as many people passed it by, not acknowledging its significance. A few men even pulled back the curtain, protecting the little leaf from deteriorating in artificial light, and moved on with disinterest.
But I could not ignore it.
Against all odds, this little leaf has survived nearly one hundred years and still cries out its call for justice, equality and a voice for women to be heard. It was worn by Florence Roth during the last heavy days of women’s suffrage and when white women were granted the vote in Canada in 1918, she carefully tucked the leaf away.
I owe my right to vote to these courageous women who risked much in their day to bring equality. And I am ever thankful that the vote did not end with only white women, but expanded to us all, bringing all women into the public dialogue and giving us a space to speak at the political table. Since then we’ve had many Members of Parliament, a female Prime Minister and currently a Federal Cabinet that is gender balanced and highly qualified. And it all started with courageous voices, determined action and fragile ivy leaves like this.
No our city and our country is not perfect; and we still have a long way yet to go. But walking through these halls of history gives me hope that things do change but we must move forward together, on equal ground, if we are to achieve all the good that Vancouver can be.
Q: Did you take part in Winter Wander 2016? What were the highlights for you?