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Welcome to the Teacher's Guide

The Journeys & Transformations site presents the environments of BC: mountains, forests, waters, grasslands and cities. In each environment, there are topics relating to natural and human histories, including accounts provided by First Nations. These separate regions and topics are interconnected in many ways and students are encouraged to investigate these links and relationships. Although presented under separate headings, First Nations and newcomer populations, peoples and the landscapes, the land and all the life forms on it are connected.

This is a photograph of a wooden handled school bell from Columbian College, New Westminster, British Columbia

School bell from Columbian College, New Westminster, BC, circa 1890's. RBCM 987.43.1

The Theme of Transformation

In addition to the wealth of information about the geography, natural history, First Peoples and historical development of British Columbia, the site incorporates the theme of transformation. The theme is useful for teachers and students as a way of understanding natural and cultural principles. Here are some of the ways the theme of transformation is relevant to the different topics in the site.

First Peoples

  • First Peoples of British Columbia have transformed their way of life in response to changing social, political, and environmental conditions around them. They continue to play a strong part in the social and political life of the province.
  • A Transformer character is an important feature in the oral histories and stories of many First Peoples. The transformer may appear as Raven, Coyote, Swan, or other culture hero.
  • Transformation is an everyday occurrence in the traditional lives of First Peoples. For example, the forests of British Columbia provide raw materials for a wide variety of First Nations clothing, regalia, basketry, containers and art works. Materials introduced through the early fur trade, such as beads and fabrics, were incorporated into this rich and varied production as well. These artistic traditions continue.
  • Transformation is an important part of First Peoples' relationship with nature. Everything in the world, including people, animals, fish, trees and mountains, has a spiritual being, and all are connected. Success in any undertaking, such as fishing, hunting or gathering tree bark, is dependent on effective communication with the spirit beings. By showing respect and taking only what is needed, First Peoples maintain the resources in their territory.

Transformation in Nature

  • The landscape of British Columbia is the result of geological transformation. The effects of natural forces, such as tectonic movement, wind, and water continue to change the natural environment.
  • Transformation is an integral part of ecological interactions. As environments change, participating organisms adapt or perish. The species within an ecosystem are interconnected — changes within the system affect them all.
  • As in the First Peoples' understanding, science reminds us that nature is a transformation generator. The sun's energy is transformed into plant nutrients through photosynthesis, which is consumed by animals to become animal proteins. Plant energy is also transformed into heat when forests burn, or into fossil fuels when they decay. Natural processes render one form of energy into another.
  • Humans have an impact upon the environment. Population growth, resource extraction, and industrialization impact the local and global environments.

Historical Transformation

  • In the past two hundred years, settlement has transformed BC's natural resources into cultivated farm land, forestry operations, mines, oil fields, and a fishing industry. Industrial development extracts natural products and transforms them into commodities for exchange.
  • Urban development went hand in hand with industrial development. Unsettled areas became towns; towns grew into cities; cities followed their own patterns of growth, decay and/or sprawl. With urbanization came networks of transport and communication.
  • With the growing complexity that accompanied development, society in BC transformed. Changes brought wealth to some and marginalization to others. As the society's values shift and change, governments and other agencies respond by instituting laws, offering relief, and encouraging different types of growth.

Transformation in the Curriculum

This site addresses many objectives in school curricula.

  • Traditional settlement of First Peoples
  • Lifestyle patterns
  • Land and resource ownership
  • First Peoples' use of their own histories and languages for modern names of their Nations (eg. Heiltsuk rather than Northern Kwakiutl, Dane-zaa rather than Beaver, Nuu-chah-nulth rather than Nootka, and so on)
  • Spiritual and cultural dimensions, and technologies, including the use of plants and animals.
  • Importance of First Peoples, including belief and economic systems, artistic expression, interactions with settlers, and continuing treaty negotiations.
  • The effects of geography and environment on the development of British Columbia.
  • Historical development patterns, including concepts of resource management and sustainability
  • Economic relations with the rest of Canada and international trading partners
  • Urban development
  • The effects of technological change

Teaching Ideas

Take advantage of these ideas in your classroom.

  • Show how the stories and practices of a First Peoples group reflect the importance of transformation in their lives.
  • Make a poster illustrating the stages of transformation in a traditional art or craft.
  • Interview an Elder to find out the transformations he or she has witnessed.
  • Compare First Peoples' beliefs about the cycles of life with scientific explanations of how energy is transformed through natural processes.
  • Explain the relationship between First Peoples and the environment. What can we learn?
  • Using photographs, illustrate and describe the transformation of a local region or a particular site over the course of time.
  • Select a town or a region and comment on the transformations that have occurred there by creating travel brochures for several time periods (e.g. 1850, 1950 and now).
  • Describe the general pattern of development of your local region, explaining some of the causes for change.
  • Interview a local resident who has lived in the community for a long period of time for a personal account of social and economic change.
  • Take one technological change (such as the introduction of television, personal computers, automobiles, etc.) and describe the effects that technology has had on people's lives and the physical and social environment. Speculate on what the world might be like if it had not been developed.
  • Chart the pattern of growth (and possibly decline) in a resource industry. Try to find some of the causes for the pattern.
  • Describe the effect a single person (or a company) had on the development of the province or your local region.