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 Indigenous 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 B.C.
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.
We also thank the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre’s BC History Digitization Program for financial support of this project. While the material on this website focuses on British Columbia, we have received funding to continue this work to digitize the photographs and records relating to Indigenous communities across Canada.
The materials included on this site date from approximately 1850 to 1975 and concentrate on some locations in which the United Church established missions to First Nations communities.
Users may use the search bar to conduct a keyword search of images.
Photographs can be sorted by specific First Nations communities, although many records remain unidentified in our collections. You are also able to search each section or the entire collection according to locations, titles, description, and First Nations communities.
To assist with your research, the photographs have been categorized into the following categories:
Please note that descriptions may include outdated cultural references, stereotypes, or problematic wording that is no longer used or considered appropriate and does not reflect the views of the United Church of Canada and their commitments to equity. Please see The United Church of Canada Archives Equity Statement for more information.