Skip to Main Content

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam)

Musqueam-UBC History

"We have been here, on this land, since the beginning, since time immemorial. Our history and our place in this land are integral to who we are as Musqueam people. Our oral history carries knowledge of geological changes that took place thousands of years ago. This is evidence that we have always been here." 

from xʷməθkʷəy̓əm: qʷi:l̕qʷəl̕ ʔə kʷθə snəw̓eyəɬ ct.

UBC is Musqueam Territory: Start here

Acknowledging Musqueam Territory

You will often hear a land acknowledgement before events, in classes, or in other settings at UBC. Below are some resources to help you learn about land acknowledgements and why we do them.

Musqueam on Campus

Musqueam Street Signs at UBC

Musqueam street signs were created by UBC in partnership with Musqueam. The names do not refer to traditional sites, but instead to UBC’s geography. You can find traditional place names here.

 Musqueam’s language, hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, uses a place based directional system which refers to the land and flow of water (e.g. upriver or downriver, inland and towards the shore) and not cardinal directions such as north, south, east, and west. For example, the word “middle” used for Main Mall reflects its central position on campus. The names chosen by Musqueam seek to educate us about the way they perceive place, movement across the land, and to show everyone how their language and culture is intrinsically connected to their territory.

You can find a map of the signs here. To listen to audio recordings of the street names spoken in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, visit A special thank you to Vanessa Campbell from the Musqueam community for recording the audio clips.

  1. q̓ʷeχt was chosen for Agricultural Road as it means a place for cultivating food. 
  2. xʷsel̕c̓əχən̓ refers to going around the perimeter of a building, denoting Crescent Road’s location near the edge of campus. 
  3. cəl̕qʷas describes the location of East Mall, as to be facing East from its location is to face inland and away from the Salish Sea. 
  4. stəywət describes the experience of walking along Lower Mall which is close to the shoreline and feeling a westerly wind off the Salish Sea.
  5. šxʷʔey̓eʔ describes the location of Main Mall which runs along the middle of the UBC Vancouver campus.
  6. šxʷhək̓ʷmət refers to the way we remember the people and events that have passed before us. 
  7. sq̓ʷəlexélə refers to a bird’s nest, a reference to the “Student Nest” in the nearby AMS Student Union Building. 
  8. šxʷyəθəstəm recongizes that the land on which UBC was built has been, and continues to be, a place of learning for the Musqueam people and for the world at large. 
  9. sme:ntásəm describes movement north along West Mall as it faces the direction of the χʷte ʔə ɬəɬal̕wəɬ ct smənme:nt (North Shore mountains).

 Indigenous Names at Totem Park

 This site by UBC Vancouver Housing explores the origins of residence names at UBC. "Each house at Totem Park Residence was named to honour Indigenous peoples in British Columbia. The newest houses carry place names gifted by our host, the Musqueam Nation, but the original six do not.

 These two sets of houses represent very different approaches to working with Indigenous communities and provide important lessons for all of us. Please take a moment to begin learning about the history and meaning of these names, and how they should be used."

Jordan Wilson, Musqueam curator and writer, takes the Ubyssey on a tour of the Musqueam house posts that exist across campus.

Musqueam Post: sʔi:ɬqəy̓ qeqən

On April 6, 2016, sʔi:ɬqəy̓ qeqən, a double-headed serpant post carved by Musqueam artist Brent Sparrow Jr., was raised outside the UBC Bookstore. This post recognizes Musqueam's presence and history on the land and the current partnership between Musqueam and UBC. To learn more about the post, visit the UBC website or download the Dedication Ceremony Program [PDF].

θəʔit (truth) - Kayám̓ Richard Campbell and James Hart, 7idansuu (Edenshaw)

θəʔit highlights the importance of collaboration with Musqueam on new Indigenous public art, and anchors Hart’s The Reconciliation Pole (2015-17) to Musqueam territory. More here.

Cultural GuardiansSusan Point

UBC Sauder’s Henry Angus CPA Hall is home to Cultural Guardians, created by xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) artist Susan Point.

ʔəlqsən - Brent Sparrow

Ten cast bronze pieces created by Musqueam artist Brent Sparrow, collectively known as ʔəlqsən (Point Grey), are installed on concrete pillars lining the walkway separating the UBC Bus Exchange from MacInnes Field. 

Thunderbird Takes Flight - Deanna-Marie Point

Thunderbird Takes Flight is drawn by Musqueam emerging artist Deanna-Marie Point and is being showcased on one of the massive 12-foot walls of UBC’s long-running Storm the Wall event. More here.

Coast Salish Two-Spirit Mosaic -  Liz Calvin & Mack Paul kʷəlasəltən

This mural was produced and installed by Liz Calvin, based on the Coast Salish Two Spirit Pride symbol created by Mack Paul (xwməθkwəy̓əm). The symbol is a visual representation of Coast Salish Two Spirit unity, dignity and respect. and created using traditional Coast Salish art style and shapes. It emulates the rainbow Pride symbol already used by settler LGBTQ+ friends, and it was created to support Two Spirit/Indigenous LGBTQ+ programming in our communities, and to acknowledge the land, identities and experiences of Two Spirit ancestors and relatives. Read more here.

xʷc̓ic̓əsəm Garden

The Indigenous Health Research and Education Garden (IHREG) is located at UBC Farm. The garden’s traditional xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Musqueam name is xʷc̓ic̓əsəm.  The hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ word means “The place where we grow”.

With an emphasis on teaching, learning, and research, xʷc̓ic̓əsəm Garden aims to serve educational and research needs related to Indigenous knowledge and its intersections with other ways of knowing. We are particularly focused on Indigenous food sovereignty, food security, and traditional plant knowledge while increasing participants’ knowledge and access to both traditional and non-traditional plant use.

"Traditionally we don't think of it as Pacific Spirit Park. It's Musqueam land. It's a Musqueam village site. We occupy it. We live there. We never moved from there. We were relocated to reserve allotments from all these areas and pushed into the 400 acres that we have."

- Gail Sparrow, quoted in Nair, R. (21 April 2019), 'We're still here': Musqueam elder reflects 30 years after Pacific Spirit Park protest. 

In 1984, Musqueam submitted a land claim to the area of the university's Endowment Lands which would become 'Pacific Spirit Park'. But three years later, in 1989, the park was created amidst protests from Musqueam community members.

In 2008, 20 hectares of Pacific Spirit Park and parts of the university golf course were returned to Musqueam through a land settlement with the province. 

Learn more:

Memoradum of Affiliation (MOA)

In December 2006, Musqueam and the University of British Columbia signed a Memorandum of Affiliation. The UBC has recognized its special relationship with Musqueam through a Memorandum of Affiliation/Understanding. This memorandum is the record and formal base of relationship that UBC seeks to have on an ongoing and daily basis with Musqueam. Memoradums of Affiliation/Understanding are not legally binding documents.

 Visit the UBC website to learn more.

Musqueam/UBC Protocols & Principles for Collaboration