History and Society

This section uncovers the hidden and untold histories of the Chinese and Indigenous relations in Canada—further observing the historical accounts of hardship, social relationships, and society to recognize the past and present social injustices of the Chinese and Indigenous groups in Canada. With the goal of informing and educating the reader on the social histories of the indigenous groups in Canada, this section urges the reader to acknowledge the past.

Cultivating Canada: Reconciliation through the Lens of Cultural Diversity (2011)

Aboriginal Healing Foundation , 2011.

This book is the third and final volume in a series of publications produced by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. The chapters are written by a group of intersectional and diverse artists, academics, activists, etc., each who have unique ties and/or history between their own cultural heritage and their relations to Indigenous peoples and communities. The perspectives of the authors diverge from the predominant French and British perspectives of new Canadians.

Chow, Lily Siewsan. “The Forgotten Ties : Relationships between First Nations People and Early Chinese Immigrants in British Columbia, Canada (1858-1947).”

University of British Columbia Library Open Collections, 16 May 2012.

Lily Chow highlights the migration of the Chinese to British Columbia, looking at their contacts with the First Nations people. She focuses on the relationships developed such as work partnerships, friendships, and intermarriage—emphasizing the benefits and challenges of these exchanges. She urges us going forward to bring awareness to the forgotten relationships between the two ethnic groups, recognizing the indigenous relationships as an essential component of Canadian history.

Ma, Suzanne. “A Tour Of The Deep Relationship Between B.C. Chinese Immigrants, First Nations.”

Huffington Post Canada, 29 Nov. 2012. 

Ma urges us to consider the deep-rooted relationship between Chinese immigrants and First Nations communities in Canada in hopes of restoring the common history that the communities share. The need for a fair and accurate depiction of the Chinese and First Nations history in the Canadian school curriculum is proposed in order to acknowledge the injustices faced by Chinese immigrants and Indigenous communities.

Tao, Will. “After 150 Years of Solitude: Revitalizing the Stories of Chinese-Canadians and B.C. First Nations.”

The Source, 10 June 2014.

This article discusses the importance of understanding and acknowledging the Chinese and First Nations relations in Canada. As a result, this highlights the Colonial government’s destructive and relationship-dividing policies on the marginalized groups and how these policies disrupted Chinese-First Nations exchanges. This article urges us to put greater emphasis on educating the Canadian public and new immigrants to clear up misconceptions and learn the shared social histories of the Indigenous groups. 

“ Their stories have revealed that relations between Chinese and First Nations were often respectful and mutually beneficial. In many cases, both peoples supported one another in the face of marginalization, racism, and assimilationist and destructive policies imposed by the Canadian government” (Tao).

Mittelstedt, Meg. “Touring BC’s ‘Hidden’ History Shared by Chinese and Indigenous People.”

The Tyee, 13 Oct. 2014. 

Mittelstedt focuses on the damage of colonization on Canada’s Indigenous and Chinese populations in order to bring awareness of the shared history of the two groups, mainly highlighting the mutual relationships that the Chinese and the First Nations’ had developed while facing adversities of Christian-European settlement. We are urged to acknowledge that we are beneficiaries of our Indigenous and Chinese neighbours’ past sufferings, and that there needs to be justice before reconciliation can occur.

Hunter, Justine. “A Forgotten History: Tracing the Ties between B.C.’s First Nations and Chinese Workers.”

The Globe and Mail, 9 May 2015.

Henry Yu highlights the long historical bond between Chinese immigrants and First Nations people in Canada, suggesting that these groups had formed interdependent relationships before British Columbia joined the Confederation. Chinese nationals pre-confederation had already successfully established reciprocal relationships with the First Nations, allowing communities to live together and successfully cooperate. He urges us to recognize the exclusion of the First Nations and Chinese Immigrant histories in the Canadian school curriculum, and encourages us moving forward to acknowledge and discuss the adversities of the indigenous groups to promote greater social awareness. 

Chong, Gordon. “Bond between Chinese Canadians and Canada’s Aboriginals.”

Toronto Sun, 20 Aug. 2017.

Gordon Chong recognizes the bond between Chinese Canadians and the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada. He does this by connecting the distinct features and characteristics of the costumes and adornments of the Chinese minority nationalities in China to those of Canada’s Aboriginal communities—while also recognizing a symbolic association among Chinese immigrants and the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada. Chong advocates that moving forward, it is necessary for the Canadian public to recognize the misconduct and wrongdoings that have been inflicted on the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, to build a better future for the nation.

“Telling Stories of Chinese and First Nations Relations: at Musqueam and Across Canada”

Larry Grant, Jul 4, 2016

This video delves into the hidden history of the Chinese and First Nation relations by observing their earliest encounters in Canada. The video is comprised of multiple short films and a short story reading that unpacks the previously-unknown histories. It solely focuses on the farmers of the Musqueam indigenous group in Canada. We are encouraged to understand both ourselves and the connections we create with our peers to start conversations and acknowledge our past social histories. .


Cedar and Bamboo, Oct 18, 2017.

The short film 1788 explores Chinese-Indigenous relations in British Columbia, Canada. Chinese and Indigenous populations have a significant role in the history of Canada, but their histories have been suppressed or forgotten. As a result of the dominant white society, Chinese and Indigenous individuals faced racism through anti-Chinese movements and the clearing of Indigenous lands. The video introduces the complexities of identity where laws enforced on the groups contributed to a history of disruption and dislocation of Chinese and Indigenous people in Canada. .