About the Guide

Heritage institutions, including historic places and museums, have traditionally upheld colonial perspectives. This includes celebrating white-settler histories and revering Canada’s colonial past, while silencing the stories and voices of marginalized groups, not least of all the histories of Indigenous people’s whose land these heritage institutions have been built upon.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) have made it clear that heritage institutions need to act to decolonize their spaces and practices. While heritage places must be held accountable for making these changes, we as both settlers on this land and visitors to these places also need to think about how we can do our part. This year we are inviting you to take a deeper dive into the histories of historic places.

To think about the history of the land each place is built upon and the diverse stories that might not be visible. In this guide you will find 16 questions to think about before, during, and after your visit to a historical place. The questions are open-ended and are not intended to instruct or inform. Rather, we hope that you select a few from the list below to help guide you during your next visit to a historic place.  

The Questions

1. What does mindful visiting look like?  

2.Whose land is this site built on?

3. What did this land look like before the site was built?

Imagine the site as a time machine. How far back in time can you go? What do you see?

4. What is the site (or was the site) made from? How is the site a product of its landscape?

5. Why is the site situated where it is?

How does the site fit into the area’s landscape? How is this site significant to the Indigenous peoples of this land?

6.What is the history of the name of the site? What does it reveal about the site, what does it leave out?

Is the site named after a person or a place? What is the namesake’s legacy? Is this site known by other names or has the name of the site changed?

7. What languages are included at this site? What is the traditional language of the first peoples of the area? Is it represented at the site?

8. Who constructed the site? Are their stories represented?

9. What was the site used for? Did it change ownership? Purpose?

10. If Indigenous history is represented, what kind of terminology is used?

If you are not familiar, learn the difference between terms such as Native, Indigenous, First Nation.

11. Why has this site survived? What factors led to its protection?

12. What protection is the site under? If it is protected by certain laws, why?

Find out if the site is under any heritage protection, whether on a municipal, provincial, or federal level.

13. If there are gaps in available information, or it is somewhat buried under other information on the site, ask yourself why?

14. What do you hope to gain from your visit?

15. How does your lived experience and identity affect your visitor experience?

16. What steps will you be taking to be a respectful/responsible visitor?

Creating the Guide

The creation of this guide was informed through a series of conversations with Dawn Wambold, former curator and current member of the Lougheed’s Community Advisory Committee and Dr. Kisha Supernant of the Indigenous Heritage Circle. This project was also inspired by the work being done through the “Lougheed House Re-Imagined” initiative, the Allyship in Action Workshop offered through the McCord Museum, Crystal Fraser and Sara Komarnisky’s “150 Acts of Reconciliation,” Dr. Lindauer’s chapter “The Critical Museum Visitor” in New Museum Theory and Practice, the work of Dr. Shelley Ruth Butler and in particular her work on Curatorial Dreaming.

Special thanks is given to the Indigenous Heritage Circle (IHC), the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) and the Historic Places Days Youth Advisory Board for the feedback and guidance in workshopping this project.

Resources to Help you Get Started 

Consult the following guide by Indigenous Tourism BC on how to be a more responsible and mindful visitor: HOW TO TRAVEL RESPONSIBLY 

Explore the following resources on acknowledging Indigenous Land.  

  1. Native Land 
  2. Whose Land 
  3. Land Acknowledgement | Whose land am I on? 
  4. Territorial/Land Acknowledgement Resource by the RAIC 
  5. Whose Land is it Anyway: A Manual for Decolonization by Peter McFarlane & Nicole Schabus

Resources on Friendship Centres:  

  1. The National Association of Friendship Centres
  2. Learn more about Friendship Centres with the following article by the Canadian Encylopedia: Friendship Centres 

Resources on the importance of wording and terminology when talking about Indigenous History 

  1. 12 Ways To Better Choose Our Words When We Write About Indigenous Peoples 
  2. Terminology Guide by indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca 

Learn about how Heritage is protected under the Canadian Government: Bill C-23: Historic Places of Canada Act

Consult Crystal Fraser and Sarah Komarnisky’s list of 150 actions that you can start doing today: 150 Acts of Reconciliation for the Last 150 Days of Canada’s 150.