Totem Park House Names

In 1948, the University dedicated a site at the juncture of Agronomy Road and Marine Drive in hopes of constructing a Totem Pole Park to display carvings from across the province. In 1962, a team of First Nations carvers led by Bill Reid recreated a Haida village at Totem Park. Two years later, Totem Park Residence opened just south of the Haida village that was subsequently moved to the Museum of Anthropology, where it stands today. Each house at Totem Park Residence is named to honour some of British Columbia’s Indigenous peoples.

We respectfully note that today some of the Totem Park house names chosen in the 1960s are broad anthropological terms that do not necessarily reflect the names used by Indigenous communities to describe themselves.

həm̓ləsəm̓ and q̓ələχən Houses  opened in September 2011. With respect, the Musqueam Nation was invited to help name these new houses. We are honoured that they chose to put forth two place names that are closely linked to the Musqueam. The names are written in the hən’q’əmin’əm’, Musqueam’s ancestral language. Musqueam adapted the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) as it’s the most accurate way to capture the unique sounds not found in English.

həm’ləsəm’ House

Listen to the pronunciation:

Say the highlighted syllables out loud: “hummingbird”, “legitimate”, “some
Stress is on the first syllable. The letter “m”, marked by an apostrophe, signifies glottalization.

Before contact with European explorers, tens of thousands of Musqueam lived in many communities throughout their traditional territories stretching from Howe Sound, along either side of Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm, to the land between the Coquitlam and Fraser Rivers, and to the coast.

həm’ləsəm’ is a site of transformation (south of Wreck Beach) where χe:l’s, the transformer who oversaw social behaviour, punished a greedy person for being possessive and wasteful of fresh water from the natural spring. While bent over to drink and unwilling to share this vital resource, he was turned to rock. His chamber pot spilled and became the smaller rock beside him.

“Resource, which is information, intelligence, all the different knowledges of the world that come together at the university, should be shared freely, so that people move through life together and grow together.” – As told by Larry Grant, Elder from Musqueam Nation (2011)

q’ələχən House

Listen to the pronunciation:

Say the highlighted syllables out loud: “cultivate”, “legitimate”, “honey”
Stress is on the first syllable. The letter “q”, marked by an apostrophe, signifies glottalization. The “χ” represents a strong h-sound, like the “ch” in the German pronunciation of Bach.

Before contact with European explorers, tens of thousands of Musqueam lived in many communities throughout their traditional territories stretching from Howe Sound, along either side of Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm, to the land between the Coquitlam and Fraser Rivers, and to the coast.

q’ələχən was a strategic fortification site (on Point Grey) where Musqueam warriors and their families resided, including warrior of renown, qiyəplenəxw (Capilano). qiyəplenəxw is widely celebrated for leading war efforts to protect his people from invaders as well as welcoming the first Spanish and English explorers, led by José Narváez (1791) and George Vancouver (1792), to Musqueam territory and initiating trade with them.

“During World War II, q’ələχən became the most heavily armed site in the Port of Vancouver. Remnants of the gun emplacements can be seen next to UBC’s Museum of Anthropology to this day.” – As told by Larry Grant, Elder from Musqueam Nation (2011)

Haida House

Opened: 1964, named to honour the Haida
Pronunciation: High-da

Location: Parts of southern Alaska, the archipelago of Haida Gwaii and its surrounding waters.

Haida people have occupied Haida Gwaii, 770 km north of Vancouver, since time immemorial. They currently make up half of the 5,000 people living on the islands that were, until 2010, officially known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. There are many more Haida scattered throughout the world including a significant population in Vancouver. Haida art can be found throughout the UBC campus, including Bill Reid’s famous Raven and The First Men at the Museum of Anthropology and Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’ contemporary sculpture Take Off outside the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.

“Our culture is born of respect, and intimacy with the land and sea and the air around us. Like the forests, the roots of our people are intertwined such that the greatest troubles cannot overcome us. We owe our existence to Haida Gwaii.” — The Haida Nation

References: Haida Nation History; B.C. Ministry of Education First Nations Map

Salish* House

Opened: 1964, named to honour Coast Salish** peoples
Pronunciation: Say-lish
Location: Southeastern part of Vancouver Island and the lower mainland of British Columbia.

The Coast Salish consist of many First Nations groups with distinct languages, but similar customs. Historically these groups moved throughout southeastern Vancouver Island and the lower mainland using the resources the land and sea provided for fishing, hunting, trapping and gathering. Today, Coast Salish people still use these resources for economic and traditional purposes. Officially in 2010, Puget Sound, the Juan de Fuca Strait, and the Strait of Georgia were collectively named “The Salish Sea,” reflecting the growing understanding and appreciation of Coast Salish history and culture. The Musqueam people are one of the groups included in the Coast Salish. UBC is located on land claimed by the Musqueam people to form part of their traditional territories.

*Salish refers to people who speak languages related within the Salishan language family whose territories extended from the northwest United States to the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
**Coast Salish refers to Salishan speakers indigenous to the southeastern part of Vancouver Island and the lower mainland of British Columbia.

References:
Susan A. Point, descendant of the Musqueam people; B.C. HeritageMusqueam Nation

Nootka* House

Opened: 1964, named to honour Nuu-chah-nulth peoples
Pronunciation: Noo-chah-noolth
Location: Pacific coast of Vancouver Island and Cape Flattery, Washington.

The Nuu-chah-nulth are a contemporary alliance of 14 bands that speak dialects of the same language. With highly sophisticated marine technology, the Nuu-chah-nulth were one of the only peoples on the northwest coast to hunt whales in the open sea. Preparations for the whales’ arrival were woven into every aspect of daily life and two or three whales in any year brought thousands of litres of rich oil, prestige and many guests at potlatches.

*When British Captain James Cook’s ship was drifting too close to a reef in Nuu-chah-nulth territory, he was greeted by hails of “nootka, nootka.” The locals meant to direct Cook to “circle around, circle around” to avoid the rocks. But he mistook “nootka” as their name and gave it also to other Nuu-Chah-nulth peoples.

References:
Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal CouncilB.C. Ministry of Education First Nations MapB.C. First Nations Pronunciation Guide; A Traveller’s Guide to Aboriginal B.C. by Cheryl Coull (1996)

Dene House

Opened: 1964, named to honour Dene peoples
Pronunciation: Den-ay

According to oral historical accounts, the Dene have occupied and governed themselves over the lands of the northern boreal and arctic regions of Canada, since time immemorial. It is not uncommon for Dene to refer to this vast homeland as Denendeh, or “land of the people,” which covers an area that spans over one million square kilometres from the mouth of the Mackenzie River (or Dehcho, as the Dene call it), southward to the northern tips of the western and prairie provinces and east to Hudson Bay. Today, the word Denendeh has come to specifically represent much of the Northwest Territories excluding Inuvialuit territory in the far north. Although separated geographically, all of the Dene nations occupying this vast region speak related dialects of the Northern Athapaskan language, and historically shared many similarities in terms of spiritual beliefs, legal systems, forms of governance, and economic systems. Recent archaeological and linguistic evidence— although imprecise—suggests that the direct ancestors of the Dene migrated to their present locations between 2,000 to 28,000 years ago.

References: Subjects of Empire: Indigenous Peoples and Recognition Politics by Glen Coulthard (forthcoming Maps and Dreams by Hugh Brodie) (1988)

Shuswap House

Opened: 1967, named to honour Secwepemc peoples
Secwepemc pronunciation: She-whe-pumh (sounds like: shuttle-whether-pump-huge)
Location: B.C. Interior, stretching from the Columbia River valley along the Rocky Mountains, west to the Fraser River, and south to the Arrow Lakes.

The Secwepmc people, known by non-natives as the Shuswap, consist of 17 Secwepmctsin-speaking peoples. The ancestors of the Secwepemc have lived in the interior of British Columbia for at least 10,000 years and traditionally lived, fished, hunted and gathered together in small family groups and spent winters in semi-subterranean pit houses. UBC’s Xwi7xwa library (pronounced Whee-whah), located next to the First Nations House of Learning, references a traditional pithouse design.

References:
Secwepemc Cultural Education SocietyB.C. First Nations Pronunciation Guide; Encyclopedia of British Columbia by Daniel Francis (2000); A Traveller’s Guide to Aboriginal B.C. by Cheryl Coull (1996)

Kwakiutl House

Opened: 1967, named to honour Kwakwaka’wakw* peoples
Pronunciation: Kwa-kwuh-kyuh-walk-w
Location: Northern and eastern side of Vancouver Island as far south as Campbell River and on the mainland opposite.

The Kwakwaka’wakw peoples are one of many groups where the potlatch is a way of life. The potlatch is a ceremony where families gather and names are given, births are announced, marriages are conducted, and where families mourn the loss of a loved one. The potlatch is also the ceremony where a Chief will pass his rights and privileges on to his eldest son. The Canadian government outlawed the potlatch in 1885, in part because of their belief that potlatches were a detriment to the expansion of Canada’s economy. The law was deleted (though not officially repealed) in 1951 and the Kwakwaka’wakw continue to hold potlatches today.

*Historically, Kwakwaka’wakw people were incorrectly referred to as the Kwakiutl. Kwakiutl is actually the Anglicized name of one particular Kwakwaka’wakw tribe located at Fort Rupert, B.C.

References: U’mista Cultural SocietyB.C. Ministry of Education First Nations Map