Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Vancouver launches First Nations guide for newcomers

By Emily Jackson


Considering Canadian students don’t learn a whole lot about First Nations history, it’s no surprise immigrants to Vancouver aren’t familiar with the city’s Aboriginal communities.

But the city is hoping to change that with a comprehensive booklet launched Tuesday called “First Peoples: A Guide for Newcomers,” which goes into the past and tackles present misunderstandings.

The project came about from working groups with newcomers, the three local First Nations (the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish Nations) and urban Aboriginal people from other territories.

Newcomers wanted to know more about the history, especially after learning about residential schools, but didn’t have a resource to get a broad overview, Coun. Andrea Reimer said Tuesday. Many come from countries where they are minorities, so look with interest at the government’s relationship with First Nations, she said.

The guidebook along with four other “welcoming communities” projects cost $460,000 over 15 months. (It’s federal money that flows through the province to help new immigrants settle.) Vancouver also updated its general guidebook for newcomers, a resource the city has provided for years.

The 90-page guide is available online and contains tidbits including why Vancouver is often referred to as unceded Coast Salish territory, what the Indian Act is and where to see public art by Aboriginal artists.

Edmonton and Winnipeg have similar guidebooks.

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