Barge Chilling sign spray painted with Indigenous beach name

Jan 4 2022, 5:26 pm

Someone spray painted the Barge Chilling Beach sign Monday with the Squamish language name for the waterfront area.

Passersby shared photos on social media of the word “Í7iy̓el̓shn” in yellow painted on the sign.

It’s not known who painted the sign, but Indigenous multimedia artist Ronnie Dean Harris has explained on social media where the word came from.

According to the artist, it’s the original name for Sunset Beach with spelling derived from the Squamish Atlas. The Squamish people were some of the initial inhabitants of what is now Vancouver, and Harris also included names for the beach from other local Indigenous languages.

In hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, the language spoken by the Tseil-Waututh people, the beach is called ʔəy̓əlxən which means “good underfoot.”

According to Harris, the spray paint could point out the irony that the internet-sensation barge got a sign in only a few weeks, yet many Vancouver parks don’t have signs with Indigenous place names.

“Now that this dumb barge got a sign … you CANNOT tell me it’s that hard to get some traditional place name signs around the cities,” Harris wrote.

City of Vancouver workers washed the paint off on Tuesday morning, leaving it to say Barge Chilling Beach once again.

The Park Board unveiled the Barge Chilling Beach sign in December as a holiday “gift” to the city after a year where residents faced the COVID-19 pandemic, a heat dome, and intense flooding.

“The Barge Chilling Beach sign was only intended to be a temporary installation to provide some fun and levity during these challenging times. We saw an outpouring of positive feedback online and in person, and are glad that overall the community enjoyed it,” a Park Board spokesperson told Daily Hive.

“With this said, we are committed to reconciliation, and have been in the process of developing a naming policy which reflects these values. Selecting permanent names, especially Indigenous ones, takes thoughtful care and collaboration with the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, including translations. We have some projects on the horizon where, together, we are successfully navigating this process, and we look forward to sharing those outcomes very soon.”

Daily Hive has also requested an interview with Harris.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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