First Nations


The First Nations collection at the Xwi7xwa Library primarily serves First Nations UBC students in all faculties and UBC students studying First Nations. A large number of non-UBC students, educators, the general public and First Nations people in the province of B.C. request access to and services from our library. We would like to assist these people but presently do not have the resources necessary. Whenever resources are available the following groups will have access to the library:  First Nations of B.C., educators of B.C., and the general public.

The Library will aggressively extend and expand its collection to provide curriculum and research support for the UBC First Nations programs: The Native Indian Teachers Program, First Nations Law Program, Ts”Kel Program, the Health Care Professions Program, and other future programs. The library will be available to UBC students studying First Nations.

Overview of the strengths of the existing collection

The First Nations collection at UBC is housed in the Xwi7xwa Library. Xwi7xwa (pronounced whei-wha) is part of the continuing development of First Nations education at the University of British Columbia. In recognition of the generosity of William and June Bellman to the First Nations Longhouse, Xwi7xwa, the Squamish Nation name “Echo”, was presented to Mr. William Bellman at the First Nations Longhouse opening ceremonies by the late Chief Simon Baker, Squamish Nation. The new Library also carries this name.

The library’s history began in the early 1970’s with the founding of the Indian Education Resource Centre. The collection later became the Native Indian Teacher Education Program (NITEP) collection. A Stauffer Foundation grant (1984) enabled the provision of some NITEP library services and the upgrading of the collection. When the First Nations House of Learning opened the new Longhouse and Library in May 1993, NITEP transferred the collection to Xwi7xwa.

In 2005, the Xwi7xwa Library became a new branch of the UBC Library which included core funding for collections and staffing including a reference librarian and cataloguing assistant. The Xwi7xwa Library continues the ongoing maintenance and development of the Brian Deer (Aboriginal) classification system and associated Aboriginal subject headings. In 2005, the Library of Congress authorized a joint application from the UBC Library Cataloguing Division and the Xwi7xwa Library to develop the First Nations House of Learning Indigenous Thesaurus.

The collections currently comprise approximately 12,000 items including about 6,000 books, 450 videos, 5,000 vertical file materials, curriculum resources, journals and newspapers, maps, posters, theses and dissertations, the G.A. (Bud) Mintz special collection, and some archival materials.

Current areas of collecting

The collections focus on First Nations in British Columbia, including contextual materials on Canadian First Nations, and in addition to issues of national and international interest to First Nations and Indigenous peoples. Xwi7xwa collects materials written from First Nations perspectives, such as, materials produced by First Nations, First Nations organizations, tribal councils, schools, publishers, researchers, writers, and scholars. The library presently has a heavy emphasis upon Native education, and will be actively pursuing the development of other subject areas, i.e., health, languages, and law. Special emphasis is on “unpublished” and published materials by, for or in consultation with First Nations.

Research and publishing characteristics

Of primary importance to researchers of First Nations unpublished, locally compiled papers informally published reports and conference proceedings by First Nations governments and organizations, or published (or internal) papers and reports by the Federal and Provincial governments on First Nations issues.

Periodicals published by/for First Nations are an important tool for current information. These periodicals are often not indexed or part of an indexing service. Periodical information is supplemented by articles and or news clippings from general periodicals.

Statistical data is primarily from Statistics Canada and the department of Indian Affairs, although the latter is becoming less important with implementation of self-government. In the future statistics may be gathered and compiled by individual First Nations.

Published books, both old, (i.e. ethnographic) and new are used as a basis for research at all levels.

Online databases are increasing in importance as new network and bulletin boards on First Nations are developed. Internal coverage of Indigenous peoples on the electronic networks is increasing.


All formats will be collected in areas necessary for curriculum and research support. These formats will include: print, electronic, sound, and audio visual. Basic directories (published and unpublished) will be collected. Bibliographies will be collected. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, biographical sources, concordances covering First Nations are rare but will be collected for reference use.

Chronological limits


There are no chronological exclusions.

Publication date

To provide both research and curriculum support the library will have to collect older materials, especially in areas of culture, history and law. While many older ethnographic reports or accounts by early non-First Nations settlers, travelers, missionaries, etc., contained biased or racist descriptions of First Nations, these materials must be collected for their descriptive content of traditional practices. These materials are also useful for research of First Nations and non-Indian and governmental relations.


Predominantly in English and First Nations languages will be acquired.

Geographic origin

Predominantly Canadian, with some United States. Materials on other Indigenous people, i.e. Maori of New Zealand will be selectively collected.

Collections in other UBC Libraries/ Areas of overlap

Many other UBC libraries collect material on First Nations.