The Northwest

Fronteras | Borders


Eskimo or Esquimalt?

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July 20, 2016
— Elisa was very insistent on going to British Colombia. It was not in my list of things to do on this trip, but I kept in mind that I may never come back to visit this part of the country, and as I realize it’s an opportunity to cross the border into Canada I decided to enjoy what opportunities were presented to me.
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We board a ferry out from Port Angeles, which neighbors Sequim, to Victoria, BC and it takes us under 90 minutes to get there.

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I’m surprised when we arrive to find a very modern, busy city. Brochures on the ferry say this about Victoria: it is a unique blend of old world charm and new world experiences. As an island destination, Victoria offers visitors an escape from the hurried world and beams with ambiance.

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Victoria is the capitol of British Columbia and after stepping off the ferry, we are greeted by this beautiful building, known as The Parliament Buildings.
The province of British Columbia boasts the highest Indigenous diversity in all of Canada. The capital city, Victoria, is the home of the Lekwungen People who are also known as the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations. Lekwungen is the original language of this land, and the traditional culture has been here for thousands of years. Victoria’s Inner Harbour is in the heart of Lekwungen territory, yet I find it odd that, while Victor boasts its rich colonial history highlighted by the modern city, its native history is subtle, almost hidden and more difficult to experience.

This beautiful hand-carved totem pole (photo above) has been placed in front of the Parliament building supposedly to celebrate the blending of two cultures. But compared to the majestic colonial building behind it, the totem looks small and insignificant. There is no physical wall between these two cultures, but the border divide is quite apparent to me.

I snap the photo below as a symbolic gesture (notice the frown on the frog’s face) to show how I feel about this scene.

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