In 1916, English visitor Alice Lisle spent a year in Oak Bay staying with friends at the Oak Bay Boat House. During her visit she took photographs of Songhees village sites on Discovery and Chatham Islands and of First Nation entrepreneurs and residents around the harbour of Victoria. Descendants of Alice Lisle preserved the original photograph albums and in 2015 shared the images with the chief and council of the Songhees Nation.
In 2016, the Songhees Nation and Robert Bateman Centre worked together to incorporate these rare photographs in an exhibit called Resilience of the People: A Visual History of the Traditional Territory of the Lekwungen/Songhees People.
“The really great thing is that we’ve had a chance to showcase this exhibit again a year later here in Oak Bay.
For Oak Bay the two areas that the exhibit focuses on is Willows Beach and the Discovery and Chatham islands which you can see from Oak Bay,” said Peter Ord, managing director, Robert Bateman Centre.
“It’s really important that Oak Bay understands the history that’s here, seen through the viewpoint of the Songhees Nation.
They’ve done a great job of showcasing that in many other ways. This is just another way people can do that here in their city hall.”
Originally launched at the Bateman Centre, the exhibit covers a visual history of what is now Greater Victoria, the Songhees First Nation’s traditional territory.
Visitors will discover the complexities of the lands around them, and witness how the Songhees’ resilient relationship to the conditions of their ancestral lands has changed, including how their relationship has developed up to the present day.
The exhibit contains engaging maps and historical and contemporary photographs of the Songhees people.
“They [the elders] held onto so much, with all the roadblocks they faced, and kept passing the culture along, being so resilient. That’s a word, resilience, for our community – for First Nations,” said Songhees elected councillor Karen Tunkara Dick.
The exhibit also features video of elder Joan Morris
“It shows her, her traditional home which used to be on Discovery and Chatham island, she in fact was the last person to live there from her nation,” Ord said.
“She talks about life and about how that has changed as well. It’s a great story and I think people will be pretty moved not only by her story but also by the beautiful scenery.”
The project is also an important testament to the changing relationship between the original and new settlers of this area.
“We are honoured to host this important exhibit in Oak Bay,” said Mayor Nils Jensen.
Resilience of the People: A visual history of the traditional territory of the Lekwungen/Songhees people, is open from Aug. 1 to Aug. 31 at the Oak Bay Municipal Hall, Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The exhibit will also be open during the Oak Bay Night Market on Wednesday, Aug. 9 from 4 to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, Aug. 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to celebrate Oak Bay’s Arts &Culture Week.