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First Nations of British Columbia. Click to enlarge. Reproduced courtesy of the Museum of Anthropology, University of B.C., Vancouver.

Aboriginal groups across what is now Canada each have their own distinct cultures, customs, and languages. Given our location, we have predominantly focused on cultures of the Pacific Northwest coast. This category is by no means a comprehensive look at cultures, but instead serves as a starting point for the reader who might be looking for specific topics relating to cultural traditions, materials or resources.

 

In this section:

  • Oral traditions: Many Indigenous cultures worldwide are based on an oral tradition, in which teachings are passed down from one generation to another by way of storytelling, song, dance, and other oral means. Oral traditions have frequently been misunderstood and misrepresented in written-based cultures, and the significance of oral histories -- whether its the recognition of their validity or complete diregard for it-- have had far-reaching consequences in Canadian court rooms when it comes to Aboriginal rights and title.
  • Languages: Canada has an incredible amount of linguistic diversity, with approximately 59 Aboriginal langagues spoken. Language is a vital tool for the transmission of values, spiritual and traditional beliefs, and the entire histories of a people from generation to generation. Despite a history of deliberate attempts to destroy Aboriginal languages, many languages continue to be spoken, and many people are working hard towards the revitalization of their languages.


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