Vancouver park board adds SKOOKUM festival to annual calendar of major special events

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      The SKOOKUM Music Festival is one step closer to making a comeback in 2020.

      Last night, the Vancouver park board voted to add it to the annual calendar of major special events.

      When it was held in September 2018 at Brockton Fields in Stanley Park, it attracted more than 50,000 attendees over three days.

      The headliners were Florence + the Machine and the Killers.

      The park board won't allow BRANDLIVE to put on the event without the approval of the Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and Musqueam Indian Band. (The Musqueam have chosen not to call themselves a "nation" until they're freed from the shackles of the Indian Act.)

      Some Indigenous people had homes at Brockton Point in Stanley Park well into the 20th century until they were torched by non-Indigenous authorities.

      "Those living on the south side of Brockton Point, whose houses were considered to spoil the view of the park from downtown Vancouver and vice versa, were forced out in 1931," wrote UBC historian Jean Barman in a 2017 B.C. Studies paper called "Erasing Indigenous Indigeneity in Vancouver".

      "Their homes were then burned to erase any indication of their longtime presence on the peninsula," Barman noted.

      These actions came as a result of a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in legal action launched by the City of Vancouver and the federal government.

      "In part because the homes of the extended family living on the north side of Brockton Point were less visible to Vancouver residents, they were permitted to remain," Barman noted in her essay. "The last family member died in 1958, whereupon all evidence of their longtime presence was similarly obliterated."

      The Squamish Nation government has already signalled its support for the revival of  the SKOOKUM Music Festival.

      After Confederation, the federal government introduced the Indian Act.

      It required First Nations to seek approval from the local Indian Agent to engage in a wide range of activities.

      Over more than a century, about 150,000 Indigenous children were taken from their homes and sent to church-run residential schools, where they were often sexually and physically abused and ordered not to speak their languages.

      The federal government also created Indian reserves where Indigenous people were ordered to live.

      The effect of this policy was to drive a wedge between local First Nations in Metro Vancouver.

      "We were on our different reserves and separated from each other and were fighting each other,” Musqueam councillor Wendy Grant-John recently told the Straight

      In recent years, the three host First Nations have forged much stronger bonds, reviving the historical connections. They've formed a jointly owned real-estate company, served as host First Nations for the 2010 Olympics, and collaborated with the City of Vancouver on the Vancouver 150+ celebrations in 2017.

      The 2018 SKOOKUM Music Festival incorporated aspects of the nine-day Drum is Calling Festival, which was part of Vancouver 150+.

      The event helped advance reconciliation and educated concertgoers about the integral role of First Nations in the history of Stanley Park.

      The word skookum comes from the Chinook language and can mean "strong" or "monstrously significant".