Welcome to our website on the history of United Church of Canada (UCC) missions to First Nations communities in British Columbia. Here you will find historic photographs and documents from the collections in our national General Council Archives in Toronto, Ontario.
Since the late nineteenth century, Methodist missionaries and, by 1925, the United Church supported what was called “Indian Work,” including marine missions, hospitals, residential and day schools, in coastal and northern First Nations communities.
In many cases, church officials, school principals, and missionaries took these photographs for the purpose of promoting Christianity and the assimilation of Aboriginal children and families. They are a concrete expression of the Church’s role in colonization. At the same time, these photographs speak to the strength and resilience of the Indigenous children, families, and communities.
This project was initiated by the General Council Archives of the United Church of Canada, to make the larger collections in Toronto about Indigenous history more accessible to First Nations communities and researchers in BC.
We consider this project a form of digital repatriation to the Indigenous communities with whom we have a shared history and a responsibility to engage in meaningful conversations about the colonial past of British Columbia.
Alvin Dixon, originally from Bella Bella, speaks about the importance of sharing archival images with First Nations communities and the next generation.
We thank the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre's BC History Digitization Program for financial support of this project.