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Indigenous Peoples Histories and Archives


The UBC Vancouver campus is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people. The land it is situated on has always been a place of learning for the Musqueam people, who for millennia have passed on their culture, history, and traditions from one generation to the next on this site. This research guide aims to assist researchers looking for materials in RBSC that are relevant to Indigenous peoples in Canada. These materials may include textual records, photographs, and multimedia materials from a wide range of topics, including land rights, fishing rights, women's rights, and legal matters. This research guide aims to lift up and make visible those archival records that were created by and for Indigenous peoples, but also includes relevant historical records created by non-Indigenous peoples. Expanding and growing our holdings in this area is a priority for Rare Books and Special Collections. If you have materials you would like us to consider, please contact RBSC Archivist Krisztina Laszlo at [].  

In April 2017, UBC Vancouver installed a symbolic art piece: Reconciliation Pole. It represents the history of Indigenous people in Canada before, during, and after the Indian residential school era. The Reconciliation Pole, installed on the southern end of campus near the Forestry building, encourages everyone who comes across it to learn more about the history of Indian residential schools and to understand their role in reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. The Reconciliation Pole also reflects UBC’s ongoing commitment toward education and awareness on the subject, including steps that must be taken to move forward together. Notably, the pole faces in the direction of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC).

Image source: Ward, K. (2019.) What is the Reconciliation Pole? Retrieved from

Historical Context: Archival Materials at Rare Books and Special Collections and Indigenous Peoples

The library and archival materials at Rare Books and Special Collections reflect the history of British Columbia, including its history of colonization. It is our hope that this guide will promote meaningful access to materials by and/or about Indigenous peoples which are housed in our collection. Many of these materials are created by Non-Indigenous people and organizations, and reflect complex and unique relationships between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples as a shared history developed between their different cultures, races, ethnicities, and ways of living.

Many of these records reflect the harm of activities endemic to colonization, including the oppression, dispossession, assimilation, and knowledge appropriation of Indigenous peoples. Others records document legal developments between the Nation of Canada and various First Nations, reflecting the struggle for Indigenous rights and setting crucial legal precedents. Still, other records demonstrate powerful cross-cultural relationships between workers and artists in various fields and industries as individuals and organizations collaborated to achieve shared goals.  Ultimately we hope that the guide will assist researchers to discover and access these historic materials, which collectively form an integral aspect of our shared history in this province. 

Note on Terminology

Visitors should be advised that some of the materials in our collections contain outdated, confrontational, and/or upsetting terminology, including offensive and derogatory terms. The presence of these terms reflects their usage at the time of the documents' creation.  We understand that these terms may trigger a range of emotional responses. In this guide and in our current descriptions we strive to use respectful, accurate, and inclusive terminology in accordance with the guidelines set out in the University of British Columbia's Indigenous Peoples: Language Guidelines (2018 Version 2.0).

Conducting Research at RBSC

Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) staff are available to assist researchers in locating archival or published material, to advise on research questions and to carry out copying requests. To contact a RBSC staff member, please see our directory.

Searching the database

Researchers looking for archival material at RBSC can search through our database of more than 700 archival fonds and collections. If you are new to archival research, the Archival Research Guide will provide you with an overview of doing research in RBSC.

Researchers can also find published materials housed at RBSC, which may include rare items unavailable in other UBC Library branches. To search for published materials, please use the UBC Library advanced search function and limit the location to Rare Books & Special Collections.

Independent research consultants

If you are not able to come to RBSC yourself, you may wish to hire an independent consultant to conduct research on your behalf. The following links are intended to help you locate a researcher. (Please be aware that RBSC cannot guarantee the work of the service providers listed here.)

Reproduction Requests

Rare Books and Special Collections offers copying services to both patrons in the reading room and those unable to visit in person. To place a reproduction order, please fill out our reproduction order form.

Featured Collection: Leonard and Kitty Maracle fonds

Image: Kitty Maracle, BCNWS questions a government panel on Indigenous women’s inequality

Image Source: Indian News 17, no. 5 (October-December 1975).
Cited in Nickel, S. (2019, March 21). “A genuine revolution”: Transracial gendered relationships during International Women’s Year, 1975. Retrieved from

Supplementary Materials

Featured Collection: Delgamuukw v. British Columbia Exhibit Archive

Text Partially Adapted From: Delgamuukw v. British Columbia Exhibit Archive (n.d.) Retrieved from

Supplementary Materials

Image source: British Columbia. Supreme Court. (1988, November 30). [Proceedings of the Supreme Court of British Columbia 1988-11-30] [T]. University of British Columbia Library. Law Library. KEB529.5.L3 B757.

Featured Collection: Thomas Berger fonds

Image source: The Berger Pipeline Inquiry. (n.d.) Retrieved from

Supplementary Materials

Image source: Dee, M. (2008, May 22). Honorary degree recipient Thomas Berger [P]. UBC Archives Photograph Collection.

Featured Collection: Thomas and Emma Crosby fonds

Image Source: The Reverend Thomas Crosby (n.d.) Retrieved from

Text Partially Adapted From: Lax Kw’alaams Band (n.d.) History. Retrieved from

Supplementary Materials

Image source: Crosby, Emma, 1849-1926. University of British Columbia. Library. Rare Books and Special Collections. Thomas and Emma Crosby fonds. RBSC-ARC-1149-2-18-05. (1925, April 25). [Envelope, Jessie Harris? to Emma Crosby, April 19, 1925] [C].

UBC Theses & Dissertations

Browse theses and dissertations by UBC students related to Thomas and Emma Crosby in UBC Open Collections.