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5 Ways Newcomers Can Learn About Indigenous Cultures in BC

Posted on: March 17, 2022

Many newcomers move to Canada envisioning cultural inclusion, and finding consensus, even if they are not connected to the history of this country. Most newcomers to Canada put a lot of energy into finding a job, a house, and settling into their new communities. But to settle you should be mindful of the Indigenous People who were here before immigrants, and who are still here. 

“What is the role of adult newcomers to Canada in the ongoing work of reconciliation if they are not connected to this history? If you feel connected to the future of this country, and if you feel responsible for the future, then you need to care about reconciliation, for the sake of the future of this country.” – Senator Murray Sinclair

1. Start with your local library

Libraries in BC have extensive collections dedicated to Indigenous cultures. These collections include fiction and non-fiction books, films and music from Indigenous authors, and about Indigenous issues. Libraries have continued to grow their collections to contribute towards reconciliation. 

The Vancouver Public Library began an Indigenous Storyteller in Residence program in 2008 in recognition of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and the importance of storytelling as a way to learn about Indigenous communities in Vancouver. Through the Storyteller in Residence program, they seek to honour Indigenous cultures and to promote intercultural understanding and communication between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The Indigenous Storyteller in Residence program has now become essential to the library’s public programming.

2. Watch a video for newcomers 

Welcome to our Homelands, a seven-minute video featuring six Indigenous individuals extending a welcoming message to newcomers to Canada, has been released along with a study guide to serve as a “jumping off point for further learning.” Produced by ISSofBC, this video attempts to introduce the vast richness of Indigenous people’s values and views while highlighting some of the many complex historical events that have shaped this country and the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

3. Read the Surrey First People’s Guide for Newcomers

The Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers is a response to the call for accurate resources on First Peoples in Canada from an Indigenous perspective. It provides information on the traditional protocols, histories, and current realities of Indigenous, Metis, and Inuit people in Canada, and address common misconceptions about the First People of this land. This document seeks to uplift and amplify the voices of the land-based Nations that Surrey occupies. This resource uncovers hard truths, constructs a foundation for shared understanding, and continues the important work of building solidarity between the Indigenous and newcomer communities in Surrey.

4. Read First People’s: A Guide for Newcomers

First Peoples: A Guide for Newcomers aims to fill the need for clear information in simple language about the First Peoples in Vancouver. It introduces newcomers to three important topics: who are Aboriginal people (or First Peoples) in Vancouver and Canada; a brief overview of the relationship between the Government of Canada and First Peoples; and current initiatives and ways for newcomers to learn more about Aboriginal people in the community.”

5. Learn About the Land You Inhabit 

Native Land Digital creates spaces where non-Indigenous people can be invited and challenged to learn more about the lands they inhabit, the history of those lands, and how to actively be part of a better future going forward together. The site allows users to browse a global map, or search by a postal code to see the representation of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis territories at any given location. 

Each resource listed can be found on our website. As you read through, watch videos, or interact with each of these, you will be invited to continue your learning journey through links to further information. The more you know, the more connected you will be to this country’s future as we move towards reconciliation.