Vancouver BC: Musqueam Blockade Remains as Negotiations Continue

Vancouver Media Co-Op. May 15:

Musqueam Blockade Remains as Negotiations Continue

The Musqueam band’s blockade of a condo construction site continues in the Marpole district of south Vancouver, as negotiations with the provincial government over a proposed land swap drag on. Established over a week ago, the blockade consists of chairs and a small tent. The construction site fencing itself is covered in signs and banners, with some signs being altered to reflect the goals of the blockade. There’s tables full of food, water, coffee, etc., and a petition for supporters to sign.

It’s a busy area, with heavy traffic rumbling through and onto the on ramp for the Arthur Laing Bridge, heading south out of Vancouver and into Richmond. Every two minutes or so, another plane can be seen coming in low for a landing at Vancouver International Airport, just on the other side of the Fraser River.

The sounds of heavy car and air traffic are soothed by the sounds of Musqueam drummers, singing songs throughout the day. As cars slow passing by the blockade, which only blocks the entrance gates to the construction site, Musqueam band members hand out flyers with info about the struggle to defend their ancestral land and culture.

There is a surprising amount of support from drivers, many honking in support and stopping to take leaflets. Others wave or give a thumbs up.

The Musqueam first stopped construction on March 12 after ancestral human remains were unearthed in January. This blockade came down after just two days, when negotiations began with the developer, Century Group, and its marketing firm, Magnum Projects.

While talks were continuing, band members saw workers on site in early May. A rally was held on May 3, and on May 8 the blockade was reinstated. The Musqueam band council has offered another parcel of land to the developers, but is currently negotiating with the provincial government to arrange this.

For the Musqueam, the site is is known as c̓əsnaʔəm,an ancient village site containing ancestral artifacts from as long as 4,000 years ago. Such sites are referred to as middens by archeologists. In 1933, the site was declared a National Historic Site because it is one of the largest pre-contact middens on the Pacific Coast.

The Musqueam encourage supporters to drop by the site, located at 1338 SW Marine Drive. It is easily accessible by taking the No. 10 Granville southbound bus from downtown Vancouver or from the Marine Dr. Skytrain station (going northbound). The No. 100 bus also leaves from Marine skytrain station and passes by the site.

Previous articles & photos on VMC:

Photos from March 12.

Photos from May 3rd.

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