The Musqueam sʔi:ɬqəy̓ qeqən (double-headed serpent post) Dedicated at UBC

April 11, 2016

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Photo by Sarah Ling

On Wednesday, April 6th, a new Musqueam house post carved by Brent Sparrow Jr. called sʔi:ɬqəy̓ qeqən (double-headed serpent post) was dedicated at UBC’s Vancouver campus with hundreds of people from the UBC and Musqueam communities in attendance. The post tells an origin story of the Musqueam involving a two-headed serpent:

“This qeqən (post) tells the story of the origin of our name xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam). The old people spoke of a small lake called xʷməm̓qʷe:m (Camosun Bog) where the sʔi:ɬqəy̓ (double-headed serpent) originated. They were warned as youth to be cautious and not go near or they would surely die. This sʔi:ɬqəy̓ was so massive its winding path from the lake to the stal̕əw̓ (river) became the creek flowing through Musqueam to this day. Everything the serpent passed over died and from its droppings bloomed a new plant, the məθkʷəy̓. For this reason the people of long ago named that place xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam – place of the məθkʷəy̓)

This qeqən represents our xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) ancestors and our ongoing connection to them and this land through their teachings. The figure is holding the sʔi:ɬqəy̓’s tail to showcase this sχʷəy̓em̓’s (ancient history) passage through generations, relating how we became known as xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people – People of the məθkʷəy̓ plant. The scalloping reflects the sʔi:ɬqəy̓’s path and trigons represent the unique məθkʷəy̓ plant. The sʔi:ɬqəy̓’s stomach is said to have been as big as a storage basket, designed here as an oval. I drew upon these traditional design elements to depict this rich history.”

– by Brent Sparrow Jr. from the Dedication Ceremony Program

To learn the pronunciation of sʔi:ɬqəy̓ qeqən from Elder Larry Grant, watch this clip: https://www.instagram.com/p/BFAAeZahompbVlhmiZNZvxw0PcLvld68M7iXdc0/

To learn more about Brent Sparrow Jr.’s latest contribution to UBC campus and view pictures from the event, visit UBC’s Media Release: http://news.ubc.ca/2016/04/06/musqueam-post-dedicated-at-ubc-vancouver-campus-today/

To watch a time lapse video of the post’s installation, visit: https://youtu.be/1ii_DjN1kz8