BCLTA Discussion Starter: Reconciliation

Education holds the key to reconciliation. It is where our country will heal itself.

Honourable Murray Sinclair,
Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Canadian Libraries of all kinds and other cultural memory institutions have, for the most of the past 150 years, been built and operated in a colonial context and manner … In other words, they have served to reflect and reinforce a colonial culture and a self-aggrandizing view of Western civilization, while ignoring and erasing Indigenous knowledge, place-names and sovereignty.

CFLA-FCAB Truth and Reconciliation Report, 2017.

Libraries are natural places for dialogue and learning.

As Indigenous Peoples’ cultures have been deliberately suppressed in our heritage
institutions, it is vital for libraries to actively participate in reconciliation. Listening and building relationships of trust are essential, and our staff need education and support as they seek to make connections.

North Vancouver City Library: Strategic Plan 2018 – 2021

Board Discussion

Trustees bring a diversity of experiences, skills, knowledge, and questions to public library board work. Board policies and practices vary across the province and BCLTA is focused on common issues of common concern for board development. Your board chair, your library director, and BCLTA all have a role in helping you find further resources specific to your needs. The BC Public Libraries Branch staff are also available for your questions, particularly those regarding the Library Act.

Your board reconciliation discussions might cover a wide range of topics such as:

  • Reconciliation as a compelling principle and approach for governance.
  • Reconciliation as a government priority, provincially and locally.
  • Reconciliation as an individual and organizational journey.
  • Board participation in library, local, provincial and other reconciliation initiatives.
  • Board relationships with local First Nations and with Indigenous organizations (building trust-based relationships).
  • Board strategic direction and expected outcomes that inform library operations for furthering reconciliation such as partnerships, programs, space design, and collections.
  • Supporting the library director so that they are successful with their day-to-day work of leading and managing library operations for reconciliation.


The following resources have been selected to support your governance team’s reconciliation discussions.

This selection is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather another stepping stone in the path for building a province-wide discussion regarding public library governance leadership, vision, and actions for reconciliation.

Please send your recommended resources to babs.kelly@bclta.ca to contribute to the ongoing updating of this discussion starter and to BC public libraries commitment to reconciliation.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

  • As well as other resources, includes a link to the final report Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

  • For a global perspective.

First Nations in BC Knowledge Network

  • This is a space for First Nations to share information with First Nations. Some of the resources are open to the public for learning about First Nation issues from a First Nations perspective and we are asked to use this resource respectfully.

Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre

  • From the website:
    • Privileges and honours the experiences of Survivors, to create a Survivor-centred, trauma-informed space for dialogue. Opened in April 2018, the Centre works to amplify conversations around the legacies of the Indian Residential School System and the on-going impacts of colonialism in Canada.

First Nations Health Authority

First Nations Education Steering Committee

  • From the website:
    • Our mandate is to facilitate discussion about education matters affecting First Nations in BC by disseminating information and soliciting input from First Nations. The primary goal is to promote and support the provision of quality education to First Nations learners in BC.

Indigenous Corporate Training

Indigenous Foundations (First Nations and Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia)

  • Resource portal to organizations, articles, and other materials to support learning about Indigenous people in Canada.

Indigenous Leadership Development Institute

  • Cultural Awareness Training for non-Indigenous people

Indigenous Perspective Society

  • All of our training services help foster a deeper understanding of Indigenous perspectives and cultural differences.


  • A joint venture ecumenical program administered by the United Church of Canada
  • Known for their Blanket Exercise Workshop

Learning the Land: Walking the talk of Indigenous Land Acknowledgements

  • Matthew Robert Anderson, The Conversation, October 30, 2019
  • Writing on the purpose and meaning of land acknowledgements

The National Campus and Community Radio Association/ L’Association nationale des radios étudiantes et communautaires – Resonating Reconciliation Documentaries

  • Indigenous produced documentaries regarding the legacy of Indian Residential Schools in their communities

Reconciliation Canada

  • Resources, program partnerships, and reconciliation updates

Xwi7xwa Library (UBC)

  • From the website:
    • Xwi7xwa Library is a centre for academic and community Indigenous scholarship. Its collections and services reflect Aboriginal approaches to teaching, learning, and research. Everyone is welcome to visit Xwi7xwa Library.

Indigenous Media and Information: Seeking to understand an Indigenous view on the world

  • Take time to explore local, provincial, and national Indigenous media and information.
  • Become familiar with local First Nation community websites and language of where you live. Many learners start with the names of local First Nations, place names such as for rivers and mountains, and common words and phrases such as thank you.
  • Explore the works of Indigenous media outlets, social media, authors, speakers, advocates and activists. If you are unsure about where to start ask at your library.

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN)

  • The first national Indigenous broadcaster in the world, with the mission “to share our Peoples’ journey, celebrate our cultures, inspire our children, and honour the wisdom of our Elders.”

CBC News, Indigenous

  • CBC News from an Indigenous perspective or related to Indigenous issues.

CBC Music Playlists, Indigenous

Indigenous Publishers, Distributors & News Media (UBC)

  • UBC annotated library guide to Indigenous media resources.


  • If you are not already reading Indigenous news, this is a good starting place for being pointed to other news, current events, and arts and culture resources.
  • From the website:
    • “The Aboriginal Multi-Media Society is an independent Aboriginal communications organization committed to facilitating the exchange of information reflecting Aboriginal culture to a growing and diverse audience.”

Maps, Names, Pronunciation

First Nations in BC (BCAFN)

Pronunciation Guide to First Nations in BC (First Nations Info)

First Nations A -Z (BC Government)


BC Provincial Government

On October 24, 2019, the Province of BC announced new legislation that will put BC laws in line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Please see A New Path Forward which provides an overview of what this means for reconciliation in BC and a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s Act fact sheet.

From A New Path Forward:

New legislation will put B.C. laws in line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This is a historic moment for everyone in B.C.

B.C.’s new law recognizes and respects the human rights of Indigenous peoples and will help to build a stronger B.C.

It makes sure Indigenous peoples are a part of the decisions that affect them, their families and their territories. It provides a way forward on reconciliation with a plan that will work for everyone in B.C.

Indigenous peoples and the B.C. government are building a better future, together. That means good jobs and opportunities that benefit all, while protecting the land, air and water.

Other significant BC provincial government reconciliation documents include:

Declaration Act Action Plan (BC Government)

From the BC Government website, A New Path Forward,

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration Act) became law in B.C. on November 28, 2019. Through this act, the Province formally adopted the internationally recognized standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration).

The Declaration Act Action Plan (3.9MB PDF), released on March 30, 2022, outlines how we will bring the UN Declaration into harmony with our work over the next five years.

Together, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples, we will advance reconciliation in tangible and measurable ways in B.C. – today and into the future.

Union of BC Indian Chiefs

  • Works toward the recognition, implementation and exercise of inherent Indigenous Title, Rights, and Treaty Rights

Official Community Plans

  • Consult your community’s OCP for reconciliation initiatives that the public library might be part of to further the goals of the OCP and the public library.

School Districts

  • Review your school district’s reconciliation planning.

The Union of BC Municipalities

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Territorial Acknowledgement

Territorial Acknowledgement

  • First Peoples ‘Cultural Council

Territorial Acknowledgements

  • First Nations Health Authority

Indigenization Guide: Acknowledging Traditional Territories

  • BCCampus

Understanding Territorial Acknowledgement as a Respectful Relationship

  • BCCampus

Traditional Territories: SFU’s Land Acknowledgements

  • Sections on Ensuring Meaningful Land Acknowledgement and Positionality Statements
  • SFU Library

5 Approaches to Making a Heartfelt Land Acknowledgement

  • Raven

What’s Wrong with Land Acknowledgements and How to Make Them Better

  • Ka’nhehsí:io Deer, CBC News, October 21, 2021

Words: What they mean and how they are used

Communications with Indigenous Leaders – Letter Writing Tips

  • Indigenous Corporate Training Inc.
  • February 27, 2018

Indigenous Peoples Terminology Guidelines for Usage

  • Indigenous Corporate Training Inc.
  • July 20, 2016

Reconciliation: Towards a New Relationship

  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • Includes video “What is Reconciliation?”

23 Tips on What Not to Say or Do

  • Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., 2021

What Reconciliation is and What it is Not

  • Indigenous Corporate Training Inc.
  • August 16, 2018

A Brief Definition of Decolonization and Indigenization

  • Indigenous Corporate Training Inc.
  • March 29, 2017

Key Terms: Reconciliation, Indigenization, Decolonization, and Resurgence

  • Pauline Wakeham
  • Department of English and Writing Studies Western University (n.d.)

Everyday Acts of Resurgence: Indigenous Approaches to Everydayness in Fatherhood

  • Jeff Corntassel and Mick Scow
  • New Diversities 19, No. 2, 2017, University of Victoria

‘You don’t call him Ogopogo, you call him by his name, nx̌ax̌aitkʷ’

  • Kelsie Kilawna, IndigiNews, April 21, 2021

“B.C. city gives Ogopogo copyright to First Nation after cultural appropriation concerns”

  • Winston Szeto, CBC News, March 29, 2021

Terminology in Indigenous Content

  • The section “Be mindful of the words you are using” is helpful for understanding the impact of words such as “stakeholder” and “execution”.

Fee Free Courses (life long learning!)

Library World

BCLTA 2020 Annual General Meeting Keynote

  • YouTube video of the Keynote from Angela and Namawan Sterritt

Canadian Federation of Library Associations

Toronto Public Library Indigenous Advisory Council

  • From the website:
    • The Indigenous Advisory Council (IAC) is made up of members from different Indigenous communities and of representatives from Indigenous service providers in Toronto. The IAC meets quarterly and provides feedback and guidance on the direction of Indigenous initiatives at Toronto Public Library, including the Land Acknowledgement Statement, Elders in Residence program, and Read Indigenous campaign.

Let’s Talk About Reconciliation: A Resource Guide for Libraries

  • From the website:
    • Let’s Talk About Reconciliation is the title of a series of dialogues associated with the screening of a film made by an Indigenous artist, and organized by public libraries across Canada. This three-year project (2018-2021) is the result of a partnership among the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the National Film Board of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, the Canadian Federation of Library Associations’ Indigenous Matters Committee, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and your local library.

Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education

  • From the website:
    • This course will help you envision how Indigenous histories, perspectives, worldviews, and approaches to learning can be made part of the work we do in classrooms, organizations, communities, and our everyday experiences in ways that are thoughtful and respectful. In this course, reconciliation emphasizes changing institutional structures, practices, and policies, as well as personal and professional ideologies to create environments that are committed to strengthening our relationships with Indigenous peoples.

Indigenous Canada MOOC

  • From the website:
    • Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations. Topics for the 12 lessons include the fur trade and other exchange relationships, land claims and environmental impacts, legal systems and rights, political conflicts and alliances, Indigenous political activism, and contemporary Indigenous life, art and its expressions.
  • Includes tools and resources developed by the CFLA Indigenous Matters Committee

The Public Library and Indigenous Reconciliation

  • Olivia Robinson, Rabble.ca, September 10, 2019.

TRC Calls to Action: Library Resources and Best Practices

  • Dalhousie University

Reconciling Communities: Planting Seeds of Change through Cultural Education and Truth-telling

  • American Library Association, November 2017
  • Wendy Wright, Library Director, Smithers Public Library
  • Archived recording available through the above link

Truth and Reconciliation

  • Greater Victoria Public Library.

Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action (YouTube video)

  • The 94 Calls to Action are read by different individuals (including staff and trustees from the public library) in Lillooet / Northern St’at’imc Territory
  • July 9, 2020

BC Public Library Reconciliation Reading and Resource Lists

BC Public Library Governance in Action

Organizations value and assess what they state as important. The following is a small survey of
BC Public library board documents that include reconciliation.

Burnaby Public Library

  • Website front page: Burnaby Public Library is located on the ancestral and unceded homelands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Skwxwú7mesh speaking peoples. We are grateful for the opportunity to be on this territory.

Coquitlam Public Library

  • Website front page: We acknowledge that Coquitlam Public Library provides service on the unceded traditional territory of the Kwikwetlem First Nation, which lies within the shared territories of the Tsleil-Waututh, Katzie, Musqueam, Qayqayt, Squamish and Sto’:lo Nations.

Greater Victoria Public Library

Lillooet Area Library Association Strategic Plan 2021

  • see Action on Reconciliation

Prince George Public Library Statement on Anti-Racism

Squamish Public Library


North Vancouver City Library Strategic Plan 2018-2021

  • see Honour Indigenous Perspectives

Smithers Public Library: Building a Better Library, Strategic Plan 2018-2021

  • see Advancing Truth and Reconciliation

Squamish Public Library Strategic Plan 2019-2023

  • see Engage and Welcome Everyone

Terrace Public Library

  • Website front page: The Terrace Public Library, located near the Skeena River, is on the traditional territory of the Tsimshian People. The Tsimshian people of British Columbia encompass fifteen tribes, and we would like to acknowledge the people of Kitselas to the east, and Kitsumkalum to the west, both tribes of the Tsimshian Nation. We dedicate ourselves to moving forward in the spirit of partnership and reconciliation.

Vancouver Island Regional Library

  • 2019 Annual Report
  • Includes reporting out to the community on VIRL reconciliation initiatives such as celebrating Indigenous cultures during Library Month, developing welcome signs in local Indigenous languages at all 39 branches, and winning a BC Library Association and American Library Association award for the VIRL Indigenous Voices Initiative.

Truth and Reconciliation at VPL

© 2021 British Columbia Library Trustees Association. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License.