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A Place to Start: First Steps

Indigenous resources for public library staff working in British Columbia

About this Guide


As we work towards the decolonization of our public libraries, we must do so in collaboration with Indigenous communities. It is our responsibility to approach these relationships with respect for and knowledge of the current and historical realities of Indigenous Peoples, along with cognisance of Indigenous cultures, Knowledges, and protocols. This LibGuide equips public library staff with multimedia resources to help further the relationships and partnerships with Indigenous communities in respectful, educated, and culturally appropriate ways. The guide includes information regarding industry guidelines; accessing Land, Treaty, Nation, and language resources; strategies and toolkits for engagement; as well as arts, culture, and media by, for, and about First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples. It is our intention to have this guide serve as a starting point for public library staff who wish to create spaces, programs, and services for and by Indigenous Peoples in public libraries. Given the industry’s lack of substantive training, staff must rely on their own research to move towards an understanding of Indigenous communities. Our guide will help staff approach communities in an informed and respectful manner.

Margarita Radzevich (she/her) is a white settler and a first-generation immigrant living in Tkaronto (Toronto) on Treaty 13 territory. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a minor in Sociology and a Master of Arts degree with a focus on Indigenous History. Margarita works as a Community Librarian, bringing organizations and residents together to increase access to resources, promote social cohesion and create community-led spaces. Margarita is currently working towards completing the Master of Library Studies degree from the University of Alberta.


Erin Willson (she/her) is a White settler living in what is now known as Dundas, Ontario on Treaty 3, 1792 territory—traditional Lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabek. Erin holds an honours Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from McMaster University and is currently studying for a Master’s of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. Erin works as a Youth Services Programmer and Staff Technology Instructor with the Hamilton Public Library.

Mel Edgar (she/her) is a white settler living (with her dog, cat and husband) in the qathet Regional District in the traditional territory of the Tla’amin Nation.  Mel is a lifelong learner and a long-distance runner. She has two masters’ degrees, and a PhD. She is currently completing  a Master’s of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. Mel works as a Teen Services Coordinator at the Powell River Public Library. 

Indispensable Resources

First Steps

British Columbia is home to 204 First Nations communities. Indigenous Peoples within B.C. live in diverse territories that are linked to their cultural heritage, which can include ideas, experiences, worldviews, forms of expression, practices, knowledge, spirituality, kinship ties and places (First Peoples' Map of B.C.). Before approaching Indigenous communities, make sure that you have done the work to educate yourself.

Start by exploring the following questions (examples of resources are provided):

  1. Learn about the Land on which you stand, the Nation, and the languages spoken within that Nation.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the Nation. Check out the wider associations as well as that of the individual Nation. Most Nations maintain websites, and many have active social media accounts.  As First Nations, Métis, and Inuit folks live throughout what is now known as B.C., anticipate and embrace the diversity of voices and Nations. 

  1. Do you have an understanding of Indigenous ways of Knowing and Being? Be particularly mindful of the principles of Relationality, Reciprocity, and Respect in relationship building. Commit to the process and to the time that is reflective of that commitment.

  1. Learn what protocols exist around consulting and collaborating with the Nation you hope to work with. If in doubt, ask. Is there a community member willing to act as a liason as you build your relationship? 

  1. Find out what other libraries are doing well:
  1. Be aware of the history that your library has had with Indigenous communities up to this point. Truth telling is key to this process. Kayla Lar-son explains: "Listen and be honest with communities about their expectations. Do not promise what cannot be delivered. Create the spaces to have open exchanges that involve both listening and sharing in such a way that fosters respect and builds authentic relationships. Support opportunities to undersatnd, while being mindful and acknowledging experieces. This should be done at the begining of every consultation" (2020).  

Arts, Culture, and Media

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), The world's first national Indigenous broadcaster

Book Women Podcast - masinahikan iskwêwak: A podcast by and for Indigenous people who have an interest in editing, publishing, and writing Indigenous stories.

CBC News - Indigenous: The latest news and current affairs from Indigenous communities across Canada

CBC Gem: Explore the originality, history, and stories of Indigenous Peoples with this collection of shows, movies, and documentaries.

First Peoples Cultural Council: Revitalizing Indigenous languages, arts, and cultural heritage in British Columbia

IndigiNews: Dedicated to covering the news in a way that allows for Indigenous stories to be heard, understood and respected.

Telling our Twisted Histories: Indigenous histories have been twisted by centuries of colonization. Host Kaniehti:io Horn brings us together to decolonize our minds– one word, one concept, one story at a time.

Turtle Lodge: International Centre for Indigenous Education and Wellness. The Seven Sacred Laws Series: A colourful and imaginative animated web series that follows a young boy on an Indigenous rite of passage: a vision quest.




Social Media to Follow