Indigenous awareness resources

We are very excited to have students joining us for the Indigenous Student Summer Program. While it is interesting to learn about the Indigenous history and culture through a first-person perspective, some students find it uncomfortable and overwhelming answering questions from their colleagues. Students can feel pressured to help educate others about these topics and it can get tiring answering the same questions over and over. This package aims to provide a background of the Indigenous history and culture for supervisors and anyone interested.

We recommend taking this excellent free course offered by BCIT.  This course promotes an increased understanding of Indigenous people and their place and space in Canada, past and present. Words like Reconciliation and Indigenization are becoming commonplace and are often followed by questions such as, “What do these words mean? Why do we have to do this? How come I didn’t know about Residential Schools?”. The course will provide you with foundational knowledge of Indigenous people in the hopes that as the true history and contemporary reality of Indigenous people is more broadly known, Reconciliation can begin.

This is a self-paced course that can be completed in 2 to 3 hours. For help with registration, see below.

The BCIT Indigenous awareness course was designed based on First Peoples: A guide for newcomers 

Aboriginal people in Canada

There are three distinct groups of Aboriginal people in Canada: First Nations, Inuit and Métis, as defined by Section 35 (2) of the Constitution Act, 1982. Vancouver is located on the unceded land of three Local First Nations: Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh while Kelowna is located on the unceded land of the Syilx Okanagan Nation. 

Aboriginal people had, and continue to experience, higher rates of poverty, substance abuse, homelessness, unemployment, malnutrition, and deaths among youth and children including suicide and murder of indigenous women, girls and 2-spirited peoples. In particular, Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert in British Columbia is known as the Highways of Tears due to the high number of murders and missing First Nations women and girls on the highway.

In addition, Aboriginal people were put into residential schools by the Canadian government to assimilate Aboriginal people into the Euro-Canadian society. Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their villages and had to give up their languages, spiritual beliefs and cultural practices. As you will learn more in the resources provided, the consequences of residential schools not only impacted people that went through residential school but many generations after. Aboriginal people that went through residential schools often developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the effects of traumatic experiences are often passed to the next generation, causing intergeneration trauma in children and grandchildren of residential school survivors.

UBC Aboriginal Timeline

Developed by the UBC Centre for Teaching and Learning Technology, this timeline documents UBC’s key historical moments with Aboriginal peoples, while locating these moments in broader contexts at institutional, provincial, and national levels (i.e., UBC, BC, and Canada). Read more

View the timeline

Want to explore further?

We compiled a list of articles, books, podcasts, movies, and shows that you can explore to learn more about the Indian Act, residential schools, how Indigenous communities are healing and what the rest of the society is doing to reconcile. 

Visit the additional resources page

How can you make a difference and support the Indigenous Community?

This is a list that student Shana George compiled.

  • Continue educating oneself on the Indigenous history and culture.
  • Support the communities through considering clothes, jewelry, accessories from Indigenous people and companies
  • Attend open ceremonies like Hobiyee (Nisga’a new year at the PNE), pow wows, etc
  • Donate to Indigenous communities that are living in poverty with no or limited access to food and no water
  • Help raise awareness towards Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit Peoples
  • Support the community by wearing colours on reconciliation days
  • Supporting programs like this one. Fewer Indigenous students continue to pursue education in university, especially in STEM than non-Indigenous students. Supporting this program will promote cultural diversity in scientific research, especially in the neuroscience field.

    “I have felt welcomed….. Overall ICORD has taken such great care of me, I love it here and I am glad ICORD has been able to support me throughout everything”.

    – Shana, 2022

Instructions for Registering for MOOC-0200 Indigenous Awareness course from BCIT: 

  • Follow the link:
  • Click add to cart and view cart
  • Confirm that you have read the information in the cart and click continue to registration. This course is free so you can ignore the popup message on payment being required at checkout.

If you are new to BCIT: 

      • Click Create a BCIT ID and follow the instructors on the webpage
      • Log in with your ID and password to register

If you previously have a BCIT ID: 

      • Sign in with your current ID and password
      • Follow the instructions and confirm your registration
  • Once registered, log in to with your BCIT email address and password to access your online course
    (NOTE: it may take up to 24 hours for course access to become active)
  • You should see the course tab under my courses