THE BIG HOUSE
We are Living on Shared Territory
Honouring ancestral territory and artists working with and for communities across Canada
Big House Projects have been community gatherings and cultural feasts created for, with and about the Downtown Eastside’s founding Coast Salish, urban Aboriginal and immigrant communities and gathering places that give it strength: a thank you from Vancouver Moving Theatre to the neighborhood in which it was founded. In development since 2010, the presentation was the closing event in a series of feasts evolved at neighborhood gathering places in partnerships with local organizations and Toronto’s Jumblies Theatre; their evolution was supported by art-making, story-sharing, cooking and leadership training workshops.
The Big House is re-creating feasting in an urban context. Marking memories of our communities coming together; acknowledge land, waterways, and gathering places that keep our community strong; share cultural teachings around food and hospitality; mourn what has been displaced, lost or forgotten; listen to youth and elders, and honour the neighbourhood’s continuity, its wisdom. We are weaving together oral history and cultural teachings, poetry and song, drumming and design, theatre and dance with culinary art. Witnessing and creating shared memories, we celebrate who we are, acknowledge where we come from, what’s left behind, what’s preserved; we stand facing the future.
“As ancestors of tomorrow, we are caretakers, creators and witnesses to our communities and stories, who live on with new caretakers in each generation.”
– Savannah Walling, Artistic Director, Vancouver Moving Theatre
The May 10 cultural feast was the last of three Big House feasts taking place between May 8 and 10 at the Ukrainian Hall. The other two feasts on May 8 and 9 were by invitation to Downtown Eastside community members, Ukrainian Hall cultural program members and community partners.
Sharing Food / Sharing Stories / Sharing Culture
Gathering Strength / All Together
In cultural traditions of the Downtown Eastside, feasts are a time for nourishing relationships, marking important events, offering gifts and acknowledgements, sharing learning and teaching, stories of interconnection, loss and joy: a storehouse of memories for the future.
As we feasted at The Big House, we gathered strength and looked to the future while sharing lived experience, oral history and cultural teachings embedded in food, hospitality, story, song, movement and design.