xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) territory

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) have lived in the Lower Mainland (watch video)  since time immemorial. Important cultural places, including archaeological sites, still hold great significance to, and are actively managed by the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm People. There are many cultural resources, not just archaeological. Cultural resources consist of an object, a site, or the location of a traditional societal practice that is of historical, cultural, or archaeological significance.

Archaeological sites and heritage

As a sovereign Nation, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm right to protect heritage sites are upheld by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) , and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) which is the BC Act upholding UNDRIP. 

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm requires all archaeological studies regarding or concerning xʷməθkʷəy̓əm cultural heritage to be completed under a xʷməθkʷəy̓əm heritage investigation/research permit. A qualified local consulting archaeologist with experience in the area can obtain such a permit, if a study is required.

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm have long advocated for the protection of xʷməθkʷəy̓əm cultural heritage that includes archaeological sites and places, such as c̓əsnaʔəm. Although recently some of the general public have become aware of c̓əsnaʔəm, there are many similar places in Vancouver that represent xʷməθkʷəy̓əm relationship with this land.

Protecting xʷməθkʷəy̓əm archaeological sites and heritage resources

Get more information on protecting xʷməθkʷəy̓əm archaeological sites and heritage resources, including tips for hiring a professional archaeologist.


c̓əsnaʔəm (commonly known as the Eburne Site, Marpole Midden or Great Fraser Midden), located in the heart of xʷməθkʷəy̓əm's (Musqueam) traditional and unceded territory, is an ancient village and burial site of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm people, dating back at least 4,000 years. It is one of several cities that existed for thousands of years before the city we now know as Vancouver was established.

In the late 1700s and 1800s, small pox and other diseases arrived on the Northwest Coast and affected the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm inhabitants at c̓əsnaʔəm who stopped living there on a regular basis but who retained the same connection to c̓əsnaʔəm as an important place. 

c̓əsnaʔəm has been heavily impacted by development as well as by archaeological studies and looting. 

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm co-produced an exhibit and movie about c̓əsnaʔəm and the subsequent lengths to which xʷməθkʷəy̓əm went to preserve this important place. The movie, c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city is available for free viewing (with a free Knowledge Network account).

Encountering suspected archaeological materials

If known or suspected archaeological materials (For example: belongings or artifacts, human or animal bone, and so on) are encountered during ground-disturbing activities, you must:

  • Stop all work in the immediate area 
  • Contact the Provincial Archaeology Branch for further direction at 250-953-3334

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